I was torn on this book. It had me hooked and I read about two thirds of it one afternoon but I’m not entirely sure I found it enjoyable. But then again, I think it’d be weird of me to enjoy a book about a missing child, psychiatric institutions and post natal psychosis. I desperately wanted to know what had happened to baby Mia… But then I wasn’t sure I did want to know, which is probably the definition of a good crime novel.
Now, I also think that my delicate English sensibilities contributed to me finding this book a bit of a roller coaster. I’ve read a fair few missing child books recently, all of them set in England, or at least partially in England. The introduction of guns and car chases and ravines and religious compounds was jarring, for me, because of how alien a concept they are compared to my afternoon-tea-drinking-local-pub-frequenting life. Which isn’t a bad thing and I definitely found the twists exciting, even if I had to stretch my imagination a bit more.
The twists were definitely one of the strong points of the book. One minute I’d be sure I’d figured out what had happened and who did what and then I’d turn the page and my whole theory would be turned upside down. I never figured it out and and I wouldn’t have done even if someone had highlighted all of the clues for me in bright green. Because the clues were there, but so cleverly hidden behind red herrings and assumptions Estelle has made about herself that it’s not until the loose ends are tied up that they all become clear.
Alexandra Burt’s writing style definitely deserves a mention too. I wasn’t expecting such a well written book when I first picked it up and in the supermarket, nor was I expecting characters to be so fully formed in my mind within moments of meeting them. I have such a clear picture of Dr Ari, for example, that I could picture him in his office now wiping lint off off his suit. Not just characters, either, Estelle’s memory of her decent into psychosis is so clear that I felt as though I was living it with her. But of course nothing in this book is that black and white.
So, to read it and find out what happened to baby Mia because I can almost guarantee you won’t figure it out until the very last pages.