Monday, February 18, 2019

Amber Cowie

Amber Cowie is a graduate of the University of Victoria and was short-listed for the 2017 Whistler Book Award. She lives in the mountains in a small West Coast town. Cowie is a mother of two, wife of one, and a debut novelist who enjoys skiing, running, and creating stories that make her browser search history highly suspicious.

Her new novel is Rapid Falls.

Recently I asked Cowie about what she was reading. Her reply:
I read a lot, especially in the white and grey days of January when viruses knock incessantly at the door. I’m not sure if everyone is like this, but I tend to immerse myself in particular genres, depending on my life and leanings at the time. Last year, in the months before my debut psychological suspense novel, Rapid Falls, was set to come out, I didn’t read anything outside of the suspense/thriller category, which was amazing but slightly limiting. Though I will never be able to resist the newest works by masters like Ruth Ware, Tana French, Caroline Kepnes or Emily Carpenter, this year, I set a goal to read outside of that genre. It’s good to see the real world every now and then, so I started with memoirs and works of non-fiction.

One of the first non-fiction books I selected was more unsettling than any fictional murder I’ve ever read. I am still troubled by being inside a house with unlocked doors and I finished it about a week ago. The book was I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and it details the brutal activities of a then uncaught killer and serial rapist who hurt and murdered people in the Bay Area for years. Due in part to the exhaustive work of McNamara, and the publicity that surrounded the book, the Golden State Killer was found and arrested. Sadly, tracking the man’s dark path contributed to the destruction of the author. Before the book was finished, her husband found her dead in her own bed. He worked with researchers to finish the book and it was published posthumously.

What captured me about this book is the ability of McNamara to put readers in the dark bedrooms of those who were hunted. Instead of laboriously detailing the bloody acts of the criminal like other true crime books I’ve read, the author gives us a glimpse of the real life horrors caused by his actions. It is troubling, stark and deeply affecting to be reminded of the fragility of life by such a skilled writer. I remain shaken and humbled by this book and only wish that there was a possibility of reading more by Michelle McNamara.

After finishing that one, I am now reading Educated by Tara Westover, which is equally harrowing though for different reasons. I think I’m going to have to go back to a suspense novel after this one so I can sleep again without one eye open.
Visit Amber Cowie's website.

The Page 69 Test: Rapid Falls.

--Marshal Zeringue