The Former Chief Executive by Kate Vane
The young man’s also trying to reinvent himself, using the meditation and active listening skills he gained in prison. This gives him common ground with Deborah’s busybody next door neighbour, Maureen, and later with Deborah’s kidult daughter who arrives for an extended stay.
With convincing characters and perfect pacing, I warmed to this book from the start. The prose is delightfully unfussy, with witty and carefully-chosen metaphors, for example (p. 148):
She didn’t want to prompt the doctor. She knew that like stage psychics they were all too keen to take cues from their audience.
Kate Vane so credibly portrays the setting, I could easily imagine stepping out of my house into Deborah’s garden instead of my own. The plot intrigued me, especially Deborah’s back story slightly reminiscent of Sharon Shoesmith’s scapegoating following the tragic death of Baby P. Although I enjoyed the surprising climax, I found the ending overly rushed. Nevertheless, an intelligent and entertaining read, well worth your time.
Little White Lies by Philippa East
Meanwhile, the rest of the family are delighted to have Abigail back. Yet she's not as patient as she might be with her twin brothers, only babies when she disappeared. Jess, her cousin who's been more like a twin sister, is sure she understands Abigail the most. But there's a part of Jess still stuck in single digits, unable to accept how much her cousin has changed.
A classic page-turner that keeps the reader guessing, I enjoyed Philippa East's debut particularly for its handling the early attachment issues contributing to Abigail's suspicions. Like another recent read from a fellow clinical psychologist, A Good Enough Mother, the psychological themes don't detract from the storytelling. There's also a convincing portrayal of a fictional therapist although, as Abigail isn't a point of view character, the therapist appears in only a couple of scenes. It also reminds me of Whistle in the Dark, about the difficult dynamics of reunion with an unresponsive teenager, this time when the daughter has been missing for only four days.
Published earlier this year by HarperCollins, I bought my own copy. If you're interested in the themes of mothers and daughters, you'll find a particularly explosive story in my free collection: