With an interesting front cover and a slightly unsettling YouTube teaser, The Birthday is the first in a new series of crime thrillers by Carol Wyer.
Reluctant partygoer, 5-year-old Ava Sawyer, disappears from a birthday gathering at a garden centre and when her body is discovered during building works there 2 years later, DI Natalie Ward is assigned the case.
Just days later another child and fellow birthday party attendee, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. When her body is found the evidence points towards a strong connection with Ava’s murder. DI Ward gathers a team together in search of the killer but will they discover the identity of the perpetrator before another child goes missing?
The story is told with just the right amount of detail. It’s a page-turner in the true sense of the phrase and lives up to the expectation set by the marketing and PR.
It was an intense read with just enough creepy involved and as the story gathered pace my eyes grew wider and my heart raced while Natalie and her team sought to find the culprit before further tragedy struck.
If there was one thing I found unusual it was the lack of media interest, which would have been immense if two small children had been found dead in separate but seemingly related incidents.
It did however keep me enthralled and the perpetrator could have been one of several. Each time I thought I’d figured out who the killer was, an alibi emerged. I loved how the viewpoint changed occasionally throughout to give an insight into the culprit’s background without giving away who it was.
The story has a touch of Midsomer Murders about it. It’s an intriguing story, with victims who meet their demise in a tragic and dramatic way but with no gore and no unnecessary fine detail. Natalie’s desperation to get it right before the killer strikes again is pure ‘race against time’.
For die-hard crime fiction readers it might lack a super complex plot but it was perfect for me. It delivered a fascinating thriller and kept me hooked so I give it five nail bitten and slightly alarmed stars.
With thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for the advance reading copy.