Update time – this was book nine of 2017. Currently, as well as reading novel number ten, I also have two non-fiction books on the go, so I’m well ahead of schedule for my goal of reading 40 books this year!
This book was another find from my weekly publishing magazine, and it received rave reviews.
Remarkably, the author is British but has created here a completely believable setting of 1960s Queens, New York. The evocation of place, character and dialogue were spot-on and some of the best things about this book.
On a hot summer’s day, two young children vanish from their locked bedroom and their murdered bodies are shortly discovered nearby. The police immediately focus their investigation on the children’s mother, Ruth, of whom they vehemently disapprove. Ruth is separated from the children’s father, ensures her hair and make-up are perfect before the police arrive, wears low cut tops and high heels, works as a cocktail waitress, has liquor bottles in her trash and letters from multiple boyfriends under her bed – so she must be guilty.
Meanwhile, a young reporter named Pete is covering the story for his paper and finds himself increasingly obsessed with Ruth and determined to present the police with an alternative suspect.
This plot is based on a true story. I also found myself imagining the events transplanted to modern-day Britain. Perhaps a single mother in a tower block, who drinks, uses recreational drugs, and smokes around her children. Would the public, and indeed the police, be more inclined to blame her if something ill befell her children? Initially I thought this was quite likely, even in this politically-correct era, but then I remembered Madeleine McCann, whose respectable middle class parents came in for huge public criticism and blame.
I did enjoy this book, but I felt the ending was weak. It felt rushed and forced, as if the author had an afterthought that perhaps she’d better let us know whodunit, and the culprit is not believable in my eyes. A disappointing end to a very promising book.
This year I have set myself the challenge of reading 40 books. Pre-baby I'd have gone for the big 52, but that may be a tad too ambitious! I shall be posting a review of every book here on my blog, and welcome your comments and discussion.