Home alone, keeping an ear out for her baby daughter who is sleeping on the floor above, Kirstie Rawlings is jolted out of her doze at the sound of a cry. The baby monitor also relays the sound of someone speaking upstairs which results in Kirstie launching into action. Racing upstairs, Kirstie discovers her baby safely asleep and after a tense search, does not find anyone else in the house. The police don’t seem to believe what Kirstie has to tell them, and Kirstie’s own husband isn’t sold on her story either. The words that Kirstie clearly heard were “Let’s take the child – and go”.
The fear factor of the baby monitor interference is deliciously creepy and so from the very first chapter of THE CHILD NEXT DOOR we know that we are in for a fun ride. Author Shalini Boland has the gift for the quick hook and jerk and it is employed here successfully once again in her latest domestic thriller. It is nerve wracking to read of a new mother who is dealing with the enormity of her child possibly being snatched and the necessity of doing such things as turning her house into a fortress to protect her child. Kirstie is surrounded by people but very much alone.
Crisply written with no spare prose, THE CHILD NEXT DOOR wastes no time on extraneous details and gallops through with a mother’s righteousness and sense of purpose to solve a mystery and avert an incident that everyone else in the street seems to have the blinkers on about. Like a new mother doesn’t have enough on her plate to contend with, our anxiety for Kirstie rachets up with each chapter and we are standing at an anxious precipice by novel’s end.
Oh and yikes! That ending! Don’t entirely trust your instincts on this one as there is a final kick to be enjoyed on the very last page.
Book review - The Accident, S.D. Monaghan
Tara and David are typical “Hollywooders” in that appearances are everything. What looks flashy and successful from the outside is all actually a bit of a façade. Having built a new home they can barely afford, the wheels of the couple’s happy little marriage cart are only one revolution away from falling off completely. Tara’s art isn’t selling the way it used to, David is insecure in his hold on his pretty young wife (his former student) and an unexpected pregnancy is adding emotional weight to a relationship that would never have been called rock solid, even at the romantic beginning
What is lacking in the reading of this book is the wish to barrack the characters on and see them through. The two leads in THE ACCIDENT have very little chemistry, which makes the lengths they are prepared to go to in order to coverup a death largely self serving – this couple were not a likeable pair to begin with. It is refreshing however to read a domestic thriller from the point of view of the husband (too), with the catalyst for drama stemming from his choices, and not by those of his wife.
THE ACCIDENT, as a relationship tale of choice and consequence, had a fair amount of scope straight from its fast moving beginning. All the ingredients were there for a psychological thriller, condensed to a fairly small stage and played out upon the complicated landscape of the modern marriage. This novel does not quite reach the mark in fulfilling its early promise, though the musings of the husband upon how he got himself into his predicament are quite insightful and add much to the novel’s melancholic and regretful air. There is more than a little bit of “reap what ye sow” in THE ACCIDENT so it may be intentional that we don’t hold much sympathy for David and Tara. We just might however be curious to see who is left standing at the end.