Century | 2018 (26 July) | 416p | Review copy | Buy the book
Harriet is a very protective mother. She can’t bear to let her daughter Alice out of her sight. But then one day Harriet gets the chance to go on a course that could potentially transform her future, giving her a life outside the home. And so, with great reluctance, she agrees that her best friend Charlotte can babysit for the day, taking Alice along with her own children to the school fete. Charlotte swears she only took her eyes off the children for a moment and now she must tell Harriet that little Alice is missing. Both Harriet and Charlotte are devastated and Harriet swears she will never speak to Charlotte again for losing her child and not one of her own. But two weeks later both women are being questioned by the police. The truth will not stay buried.
The lost or stolen child is a familiar theme in psychological thrillers but there is something about the way that Heidi Perks treats the theme in Now You See Her that particularly appeals. And I think that this has a great deal to do with Harriet and Charlotte. Each is such an interesting character and the development of their friendship over the previous few years is portrayed with real feeling. Harriet is not an easy woman to warm to, she’s an outsider, and the mums that gather outside the school gates to collect their young can be every bit as unkind as their offspring. Charlotte won’t stand for it. Their friendship is fragile and they have very little in common except their children but it feels very genuine. I warmed to these two, especially Charlotte.
The police investigation, the stories of Charlotte and Harriet, Harriet’s relationship with her husband, the role of the media and society in forming opinions – these all work together to form a psychological thriller that is more original and realistic than most.
There are tantalising hints throughout the novel from the very beginning, in the form of snippets from police interviews, so we know that something serious lies ahead, perhaps even more so than the disappearance of four-year-old Alice, and this keeps the reader on tenterhooks. The narrative also shifts to and fro in time and moves between the stories of Charlotte and Harriet. The structure works well and keeps the pace moving.
I realised quite early on in which way the novel would go and so this did take the edge off it a little for me. Nevertheless, Now You See Her gives us something different in what is a rather crowded shelf. It is well-written and the pace is maintained throughout, driven by the memorable and appealing characters of Harriet and Charlotte whose friendship is here put to the biggest test.
I’m delighted to post my review as part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of Now You See Her. For other stops on the tour, please do take a look at the poster below.