To every family across the country, their home provides a sanctuary, somewhere that they can return to at the end of a long working day, safe from the stresses of the world and free from fear. But, if you are honest, how well do you know your neighbours? Can you trust them? Is your sleepy little street and your perfect home the safe haven you think it to be?
Safe is exactly how home feels for Harry and his wife Alice who live an unassuming life in suburban Brighton with their eight week old daughter Evie. At least, that was how things used to be.
When Harry wakes one night after hearing a noise in the house, he and Alice are only at the beginning of a very terrifying ordeal. In an apparent case of mistaken identity, the couple are terrorised in a home invasion, faced with two armed men who are searching for someone and something that neither of them has any knowledge of. With their lives and that of their daughter under threat, Harry and Alice are forced into staying silent, afraid to go to the police and afraid to ask anyone for help. Only Alice knows more than she is telling Harry. The ‘package’ the men are looking for was delivered to their house, collected by a stranger that Alice can only assume is the missing Renshaw.
After Harry is confronted by the mysterious Ruth who claims to know all about the men who broke into his home and yet insists she is nothing to do with the threat against them, it is clear that the nightmare is only just beginning for the couple. Feeling threatened by the events of the night before, and when they receive a visit from some people purporting to be police officers, Alice and Harry begin to understand they can trust no one.
When a second package arrives at their home, Alice has convinced herself that she knows where to find Renshaw, and goes to confront him, setting in motion a most unfortunate chain of events which sees Harry having to rely upon Ruth, a woman he knows little of, including whether or not he can truly trust her, and Alice on the run with the very thing that threatens her family’s safety the most – Renshaw.
What follows is a series of events which sees the lives of Alice, Harry and Evie under constant threat. Car chases, action and mystery draws the reader along. Just who is Renshaw and what evidence does he have that crime boss Nathan Laird is prepared to kill to retrieve? How far does his involvement and that of this ‘friend’ Nerys, extend into Laird’s business? One thing is for sure, Alice and Evie’s life are in great danger as Nerys is not the sweet and innocent old woman she would have Alice believe, and behind the charming Corporate veneer, her son Michael is hiding his own very dark and predatory nature. With Harry and Alice separated by the heart of the country, how can they be reunited and find their way to safety and who, if anyone, can they truly trust as they fight their way out of their terrifying predicament.
Bale has created a very visual and thrilling read for his audience. The action is fast paced and not once did I find I could look away, itching to see what happened next. He has developed a very broad cast of characters, starting with the innocent Harry and Alice, thrown into danger through no fault of their own, their plight and their reactions made wholly believable. Just like Harry, you never quite come to trust Ruth, her motives always in question, her instinct to double cross people a little too natural to truly relax around or believe anything she has to say. Laird himself only appears at the end of the book but is portrayed menacingly enough to get a full flavour of the man behind the organisation. And as for the duplicitous nature of Nerys and her son Michael, not only in their interactions with Alice but also in the nature of their very own relationship, it is extremely well written, the message clear that in the case of this family, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Told from predominantly Alice and Harry’s point of view, the story is addictive, tapping into their fears and supplementing their limited awareness of what is truly going on around them from within the minds of one or two of the other characters. What you get is a gradual build, a crescendo of action leading to a truly exciting ending. This book is, what would aptly be described as, a real page turner. I ate it up, enjoying the descriptive prose as well as loving the action scenes as Harry and Ruth tried to evade Laird’s henchmen. If you love the thrill of a good chase as well as a true mystery, then this book is for you. A truly engrossing story.
5 Very Tense Stars