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In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.  

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking...

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    Not to be missed

    Set in Bristol in 2012-2013, this is the first-hand account of 8-year-old Ben's disappearance from the point-of-view of his mother Rachel Finch and the investigating detective Jim Clemo. It is an intimate look into their minds in the period preceding and following Ben's disappearance. Rachel addresses the reader directly, while Jim's account is in the form of his interviews with (and confidential reports to) his department psychologist. The characters are all described in great detail, along with their extensive back-stories. While not totally necessary, this does provide some depth to the story and makes us feel like we know them. The author may be setting the scene for a series of follow-up books featuring the same characters. The story itself is told in an interesting format, which includes narrative as well as blog posts, emails, interviews, and reports. During the investigation, we discover that everyone is hiding a secret - but who's hiding Ben? Everyone is a suspect: Rachel's sister Nicky, Rachel's ex-husband John, John's new wife Katrina, as well as anyone who had contact with Ben at school. Even the title of the book gives us the impression that Rachel may not be a reliable narrator. Could she herself be responsible for Ben's disappearance? I must admit that when I see a story like this on the news, I usually suspect the mother first. This is a suspenseful and exciting story, one that will keep you reading until the end, which is both realistic and satisfying. The story is followed by an interview with the author, reading group discussion questions, and a list of Gilly's ten favorite page turners. This is one not to be missed. I received this book in return for an honest review.


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