This is a suspenseful thriller with characters that highlight the fractious and dangerous nature of protective mothers…
Has she left her child in the care of a killer?
Sadie has moved back to London so her daughter can attend the exclusive school her domineering father has secured her a place at. It’s highly sought-after and highly competitive – just like the other mothers, Sadie soon discovers.
While she’s trying to get her daughter settled and navigate the fraught politics of the school gate, Sadie is also trying to reclaim a position in her old legal chambers – she used to practice as a criminal barrister. She’s given the junior brief on a scandalous case involving a male teacher and his student. It’s an opportunity to prove herself, but will she let a dangerous flirtation cloud her professional judgement? And will her sudden close friendship with another mother prevent her from seeing the truth – and the threat that she’s inviting into her home?
One thing I particularly loved about this book right from the start is the setting. The old, dusty, slightly spooky house is the perfect beginning for a story that continues to get more and more sinister. The horrifying discovery of what happened to Sadie’s childhood bedroom makes it even more creepy and I felt that this helped to really set the tone for the book.
Sadie herself is an anxious, fearful yet determined mother. Without knowing what happened to make her move back to her childhood house, the reader gets the sense that she’s battled through a difficult time, and I liked her determination to start again. Where she seems to fall short however, is the decision to send her daughter Robin to what turns out to be a horrible school – until this is explained, the reader is left doubtful that Sadie is as strong and reliable as she first seemed. This is excellent writing however – the inability to trust Sadie creates a stronger atmosphere of suspense and suspicion for the reader. I had to keep reading to find out why Robin was going to that school and why Sadie had hated it so much as a child. It’s clever writing, as there are just enough hints dropped to hook the reader.
Another thing I liked about this is the multiple story lines. The school seems utterly bizarre – some of the behaviour from the students and mothers is so odd and frankly at times, chilling. Sadie’s exclusion from friendships with the other mothers is hard to watch, and that isolation reignites pity for her and her situation. However, as things pick up and she finally makes friends, despite being relieved for her, I was still suspicious. This is why I like Tyce’s writing – she lays the groundwork well for us to know that not all is at it seems, without giving anything away too early.
The second story line surrounds Sadie’s work, and despite having no connection to her old school, it’s a clever pairing. While the client she is representing seems innocent, the crime he is accused of is horrible to say the least… While at the school, the behaviour of the mothers is horrible, yet there seems to be no explanation for it. It’s a really fascinating contrast. When the book swaps between the two, it jolts the reader from one story line to another just at the right times to stop us from figuring it all out too soon…
The ending to this is built up very cleverly. Although I was suspicious of everyone, it’s not until the very end that we’re able to know who is behind it all. Everything, from both story lines, comes to light. It’s fast-paced, thrilling and I couldn’t put it down until I’d got to the very end. Tyce’s writing and her knowledge of when to build the pace and when to slow it down, is really clever and it kept me hooked right up until the very last page.
I’d highly recommend this – it’s a fast-paced thriller that everyone will love, with characters that are hard to figure out and two story lines that keep the reader hooked.
The Lies You Told
Wildfire, 20th Aug 2020