- Author: Deborah O’Connor
- Published: October 2016 by Twenty 7
- Category: Psychological Thriller
You’d always recognise your own son. Wouldn’t you?
Heidi and Jason both have tragedies in their pasts which brought them together. They had been invited to, and subsequently met at, a conference on child safety. Heidi’s daughter had been murdered six years previously and Jason’s son, Barney, disappeared a year later. The prologue of the little boy being abducted is terrifying in the simplicity and effortlessness it takes.
When Heidi calls at an off-licence after work one day she’s almost positive a boy she sees in the corridor behind the counter is Barney, even though she never actually knew him. Jason is just as adamant the boy is not Barney and dismisses Heidi’s concerns. He has computer images of how Barney might conceivably look now and can’t see the resemblance. And, above all else, he is confident he would know his son. There have been many reported sightings over the years which have taken their toll on Jason, his ex-wife, Vicky, and Heidi. Heidi, however, is determined to find out the truth regardless of the strain it puts on her marriage. She is convinced, by a couple of repeat visits to the off-licence, the boy is Barney.
Alone, I began to imagine how the rescue might play out if Jason was able to make a positive ID. How the police would force their way in through the front door with a battering ram, how they would disperse inside to secure the area, how Jason would follow behind and find Barney shivering and crying in the corner and how he would scoop him up into his arms and safety.
The story is told from Heidi’s perspective and starts off really well. We get to witness her growing fixation with the boy she believes is Jason’s son, which is maybe exacerbated by the fact that, as far as they’re aware, Jason’s son is still alive. She didn’t have the chance to help her daughter and sees this as an opportunity for a happy ending, reuniting Jason and Barney. Heidi and Jason don’t have the happiest of memories in common, and Heidi’s obsession with the boy doesn’t help their faltering relationship. This is where it went a little off kilter for me. I found Heidi’s actions questionable at best. I had to suspend belief at some of the antics she got up to, and I couldn’t make sense of her connection with the creepy Tommy.
The characters are damaged and flawed, all with secrets, and I found them unlikable and frustrating at times even as I empathized with Jason’s and Heidi’s awful experiences. The story did keep me reading though, and wanting to find out what happened, through the twists and gradual unfolding of the dark plot right up to the unexpected and quite disturbing ending.
A well written debut with an interesting premise, notwithstanding Heidi’s behaviour, and an author to watch.
My review is based on a free copy of the book from the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or the review content.
About Deborah O’Connor
Deborah O’Connor is a writer and TV producer. Born and bred in the North-East of England, in 2010 she completed the Faber Academy novel writing course. She lives in London with her husband and daughter.