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Paul Sanders

Victim or the Crime - The Day Before Jerry Died: A Grateful Dead Thriller

A successful author is forced to relive his childhood abuse in order to clear his name.

Dan Wilcox wakes up one morning with a gash on his head, and his shirt slashed and splattered in blood. He cannot recall how he got into that state and realises he has lost four days of his memory. He changes out of his blood-stained clothes and decides to retrace his steps back to the last thing he can remember, a visit to his parents’ home in Marquette, Michigan. Dan had not spoken to his parents in fifteen years, and he had hoped to speak to them to help him deal with unresolved childhood trauma.  He travels to his parent’s house and finds the house ransacked, and his mother dead on the kitchen floor, with a knife sticking out of her neck. Dan calls the police and then Diana, a psychiatrist who as helping him process the neglect and abuse he suffered as a child, from his mother and father. Detective Robinson is assigned the case and Dan is suspected of killing his mother to inherit her wealth. Dan learns that his father has been dead for several years and his sister Louise has been missing for many years, also presumed dead. His brother, Mark, lives in California and has a solid alibi. Dan is confident he played no part in his mother’s murder and begs Diana to perform hypnosis. Diana refuses but she does review his case files and recorded therapy sessions. When Dan’s bloodied clothes are found by the police, he feels he has no choice but to run. He confides in Diana, and she agrees to flee with him, to try and help him solve the mystery of his mother’s death. As the fugitives travel across the country, they are pursued by Detective Robinson and the Michigan State Police. Dan has flashbacks to the scene of the murder, and he is forced to relive painful childhood memories. As the runaways attempt to track down Dan’s estranged relatives, they discover sordid details about his father’s meddling in a juvenile court case, and the truth about his sister’s disappearance.

Victim or the Crime - The Day Before Jerry Died: A Grateful Dead Thriller is a tense and gripping psychological thriller by author Paul Sanders. The novel is a well written, authentic and believable work of crime fiction. Told partly through Dan’s flashbacks with graphic descriptions of childhood abuse, it is a harrowing and difficult read in places. I enjoyed the weaving of the Grateful Dead throughout this story, and the musical references.

This is a lengthy novel (at 683 pages), but it flows at a good pace and is easy to read. The book will appeal to readers who enjoy detective stories, psychological thrillers, true crime and the Grateful Dead.

Star rating: 5 Stars

Summary: A tense and gripping psychological thriller about one man’s search for the truth.

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