"Three Days to Dead" delivered more than I expected of it. The slightly clichéd title and garish cover set me up for a piece of supernatural light entertainment with a puzzle at its heart. The book turned out to be much, much darker, more violent and more thoughtful than that.
The story centres around Evangeline Stone, a young killer in a death squad targeted at the non-human population (the Dregs) who, having been robbed of her life and the memory of her death, is returned to a three-day lifespan, in the body of a stranger, to solve a puzzle she does not have the pieces of.
The plot is set up to provide a good action story: charismatic heroine, a race against time, a mysterious chain of events, laced with betrayal and mistrust and packed with fight sequences to keep the readers' attention.
But Kelly Meding takes everything further than. As Evangeline painfully recovers her memory and struggles to discover who she can trust, she confronts her former self and discovers a desire to change and a need to live that she lacked before her first death.
She reassesses herself, her allies, her enemies and discovers choices she was previously blind to. As she does so, we start to care about her and root for her, which brings this action-packed supernatural thriller to life and turns the gruesome memories and the endless violence from gratuitous window dressing into real character building.
Xe Sands does a great job as the narrator, able to deal with action and introspection equally well.