REVIEW: The Birthday, Carol Wyer

Monday, 10 December 2018

One hot summer's afternoon, five-year-old Ava Sawyer went to a party. She never came home... When five-year-old Ava Sawyer goes missing from a birthday party at a local garden centre, the police are bewildered by the lack of leads. That is until two years later, when Ava's body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party... Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward. A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that ended very badly. Natalie soon discovers that Ava's mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she's sure Ava's father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she's not telling Natalie... Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn't come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken?

Carol Wyer’s The Birthday is, without a doubt, the most realistic detective-led mystery/thriller books that I have ever read.
But let me stop you there, because that is definitely not a good thing.
It turns out that, no matter how much I have complained about it in the past, this genre needs a little of suspension of disbelief (not a lot though, let’s not let it get out of hand); they need an overarching plot-line and cast of characters that are just slightly too outrageous to exist in real-life.
Because The Birthday is what happens when those aren’t present.
There were no twists, no turns, no excitement of any kind. No red herrings, no hidden agendas, no evil lurking in the shadows. There was just one viable suspect, one way that the story could have gone, and all of the evidence left out in the open to make sure there’s no reasonable doubt.
I have just never read a mystery/thriller that was so linear. It was completely bizarre.
And not in the way that it should have been.
The entire plot points to just one person and, a chapter from the end when you’re expecting a villain to pop out from somewhere and cackle about their evil plan, The Birthday wraps up and a psychologists pops in to provide a lot of exposition about the murderer’s motives.
It was like if the entire movie of The Silence of the Lambs was Hannibal eating someone, a jump-cut to a psychologist explaining why he did it, and then the credits rolled.
The film would’ve been shit and Anthony Hopkins wouldn’t have won his Academy Award.
Honestly, The Birthday completely baffled me. Because it wasn’t baffling at all.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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