When Emma Joseph met her husband David, he was a man shattered by grief. His first wife had been killed outright when her car veered off the road. Just as tragically, their six-year-old daughter mysteriously vanished from the scene of the accident.
Now, six years later, Emma believes the painful years are behind them. She and David have built a new life together and have a beautiful baby son, Ollie.
Then a stranger walks into their lives, and their world tilts on its axis.
Emma's life no longer feels secure. Does she know what really happened all those years ago? And why does she feel so frightened for herself and her baby?
When a desperate Emma reaches out to her old friend DCI Tom Douglas for help, she puts all their lives in jeopardy. Before long, a web of deceit is revealed that shocks both Emma and Tom to the core.
They say you should never trust a stranger. Maybe they're right.
Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott was published by Black Dot Publishing on 14 May 2015. This is the fourth book in the DCI Tom Douglas series, but please don't let that put you off. I haven't read any of the others in the series, and didn't realise that this was book four until I went to check it out on Goodreads - after I'd read it. I'm sure that the first three in the series; Only The Innocent (May 2013); The Back Road (May 2013) and Sleep Tight (February 2014) do give the background of DCI Douglas, but not having read them will certainly not affect any enjoyment of Stranger Child.
Stranger Child is a deeply unsettling, chilling and very well written story. Rachel Abbott's style of writing is accessible and flows very well. She keeps her readers on a knife edge, and although you do start to expect the unexpected, there are some very clever twists that won't fail to surprise.
The reader knows more than the lead character, Emma. From the opening paragraphs, we've been let into the secret that the car crash that killed Emma's husband David's first wife was not the simple accident that everyone presumed. However, we are as much in dark as everyone else as to where their young daughter Natasha disappeared to.
When Natasha reappears, out of the blue, and refusing to say anything about where she has been, or who with, Emma's world is turned upside down. The scene in the kitchen, as Emma looks out of her window into the dark night, and suddenly becomes aware of two eyes staring at her, behind her, is quite terrifying, and sets the tone and pace for the rest of the book very well.
DCI Tom Douglas is a cleverly constructed character, a great policeman, but also weighed down with issues of his own, and memories of times past. These emotions do affect the way that he deals with this case, and also the discovery of the body of a young girl in nearby woods, but also add a depth to his character that I enjoyed discovering.
Stranger Child is a big book, with many characters and at times, a fairly complicated and maybe a little far-fetched, plot. But hey, they say that truth is stranger than fiction and you only have to trawl the net and read the newspapers to find that very odd, and very implausible things do happen, every day, everywhere.
I really enjoyed this story, and Rachel Abbott's writing. She has woven some dark themes throughout the story which is tense and quite gripping. She'll take you to dark places, but she does it very well.
My thanks to the author and publisher who sent my copy of Stranger Child for review.
Rachel Abbott's debut thriller, Only The Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US.
This was followed by the number one bestselling novels, The Back Road, Sleep Tight and Stranger Child. Nowhere Child - a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child - was Rachel's fifth book. In February 2016, she released her sixth book, Kill Me Again.
In 2015 Amazon celebrated the first five years of the Kindle in the UK, and announced that Rachel was the number one bestselling independent author over the five-year period. She was also placed fourteenth in the chart of all authors. Stranger Child was the most borrowed novel for the Kindle in the first half of 2015.
Rachel now lives in Alderney - a beautiful island off the coast of France, and is now able to devote time to her other love - writing fiction.
For more information see Rachel's website www.rachel-abbott.com
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