‘It’s every mother’s nightmare …
The first time Alice Fancourt goes out after their daughter is born, she leaves the two-week-old infant with her husband, David. When she returns only two hours later, she swears the baby in the crib is not her child. Despite her distress, David is adamant that she is wrong.
The police are called to the scene. Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse is sympathetic, but he doubts Alice’s story. His superior, Sergeant Charlie Zailer, thinks that Alice must be suffering from some sort of delusion brought on by postpartum depressions.
With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it’s too late?’
I was first drawn to this book when I saw it recommended to me on Goodreads. The blurb is intriguing, and it sounds like a great mystery / thriller novel. I’d also seen the author’s name a lot, which added to it’s appeal.
I requested it from my local library, instead of buying it, and honestly…I’m so glad I did, because I’d have been so disappointed if I’d spent money on it.
While the novel begins well, with Alice leaving for her first trip out of the house since having baby Florence, and coming home to discover a baby that she insists is not her daughter, in her daughter’s place, the story seems set to be full of intrigue, a race to find out who has the real Florence, and why she was switched.
Unfortunately, this just wasn’t the case. I found the story to be quite dull, I didn’t find the behaviour of any of the characters to be believable, and I found that I didn’t really care what the outcome would be.
Two of the main characters are painted as sadistic, controlling people who don’t care about Alice once she has the baby, but their actions border on ridiculous, almost amusingly so, to the point where I actually found myself rolling my eyes and skimming forward for sections at a time.
Alice, the main character, is pathetically weak willed and, for some reason, seems to have a bladder problem because the amount of times she was referenced as about to wet herself was laughable. She accepts the treatment by her husband and mother-in-law almost too easily, and it really made me not care what happened to her.
We’re also supposed to believe that the police officer on the case somehow fell in love with Alice over the course of two meetings – both of which were about finding her missing baby, and this is what spurs him on to delve into the case and find evidence as to where the baby might be, and what other crimes Alice’s husband might have committed. And the relative ease in which he is allowed to do this, because he is ‘above average’ at his job, makes the police service look like a pushover.
In terms of narration, we have both Alice’s perspective, leading up to and during the abduction and disappearance, and we have Simon’s (the police officer) perspective during the disappearance, with a few flashbacks to before Alice went missing.
The writing itself isn’t necessarily bad, if just a bit lazy and simplistic. There was no real tension created in a book that really should have been full of suspense.
I finished this book because I have a strict rule about finishing books – if I start it, I finish it, no matter how much I’m disliking it. But as far as this book goes, in my opinion, the plot could have been great but it wasn’t executed well, the characters aren’t likeable, or particularly well written, and the ending was one of those endings that leaves you scratching your head saying ‘really??’ when you close the book.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book.