Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath

Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath is a cuckoo-in-the-nest psychological thriller. It’s the story of a family pushed into meltdown by the unexpected arrival of an 11-year old love child.

The action takes place in London during the 2011 riots. The central character and narrator is Dr Cat Lupo, an expert in child personality disorders.

Cat is married to Tom and they have a pre-teen daughter, Freya.

The story begins when Ruby Winter, an 11-year old girl turns up on Cat and Tom’s doorstep. Cat is shocked to learn that Ruby is Tom’s love child. She barely has time to process the news before Ruby moves in.

This is because Ruby’s mother, Linda, has just been found dead. Her only other relative is her grandmother and while Cat is keen for the grandmother to become Ruby’s guardian, it seems no one else wants to go along with that idea.

No such thing as evil?

Against her better judgment, Cat allows Ruby to stay. But almost immediately, things happen that make her fear Ruby’s influence on Freya. Although Cat’s professional background tells her there’s no such thing as evil, instinct tells her otherwise.

Soon, with family headed for meltdown, Cat finds herself caught up in a race against time to save Freya.

Initially, I thought that Give me The Child was off to a slightly shaky start — there seemed to be too many characters and not enough information about some of them. But the storyline and main characters are interesting and within a few pages, I was hooked. The more I read, the more I would have liked a bit more backstory about Tom’s relationship with Cat and also his relationship with Ruby and Ruby’s mother, but I guess it’s a sign of believable characters that I found myself wanting to know more. Overall, I enjoyed this novel. If it had a prequel, I’d be inclined to read it!

[Disclosure: The publisher, Harper Collins provided an advance copy for the purpose of this review].

The Woman Next Door by Cass Green

The Woman Next Door by Cass Green is a dark psychological thriller about two women who become unlikely partners in crime when they collude to conceal a murder.

Hester is a widow. We first encounter her in the library where she is learning to use computers. She talks to herself and she’s clearly a bit eccentric. She has a distorted view of the world and her stream of consciousness quickly shows that she’s not a likeable character. She’s needy and she always sees the worst in people but, in many ways, she’s her own worst enemy.

Hester and Melissa are neighbours. Melissa is married. Her husband is a successful doctor and they have a teenage daughter, Tilly.

On the surface Melissa’s life seems comfortable but secrets from the past are a threat to her peace of mind. And, when a visitor turns up at Tilly’s birthday party, it seems those secrets are about to spill. Events take a dark turn and the first part of the novel culminates in a shocking manner.

Cass Green draws believable characters

By the end of Part 1, Cass Green has established a nice bond between Melissa and Hester that’s destined to last a very long time indeed.

There are a lot of things to like about The Woman Next Door. Cass Green draws believable characters and it is easy for the reader to understand why they do what they do.

Hester and Melissa both make bad decisions but there’s a satisfying inevitability to the way that the story unfolds and there are some good twists and surprises along the way.

The chapters lead nicely into each other and Cass Green sustains a good pace throughout.

All in all, The Woman Next Door is an easy and entertaining page turner. It should appeal if  you enjoy an unreliable narrator and a good, dark yarn

The Woman Next Door by Cass Green is a Harper Collins ebook.
Disclosure: I received an ARC via Netgalley for the purpose of this review.