Today it is my absolute delight to be kicking off the blog tour for the latest book by Carol Wyer, The Birthday. This marks the start of a new series by Carol following DI Natalie Ward and her team and what a book it is too. My thanks to Kim Nash for inviting me to join the tour and to publishers Bookouture for providing the advance copy for review. Here is the all important book stuff.
About the Book
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?
Gripping, fast-paced and nail-bitingly tense, this book will send shivers down your spine. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter.
So … let’s start by being honest. Who, when they heard that this wasn’t going to be the next in the Robyn Carter series paused and thought, awww… but I like Robyn? I’ll admit I did – for about a nanosecond because that’s all the time it took me to realise that this could be something special and that I am always happy to read a book from Carol Wyer, no matter the subject. Her writing is excellent.
I am happy to report that second me – the excitedly anticipating the new book me – was absolutely one hundred percent right. This book truly is excellent.
The opening of this book will lull you into a false sense of security. You know something will be amiss as the blurb gives you the greatest hint of all, but it is a fairly tame beginning. Just kids (noisy ones – yak) at a birthday party at a petting zoo and garden/craft centre. Nothing wrong with that (apart from aforementioned kids). That is until the business owner who is looking after the party takes her eye off the ball for one moment and it all descends into chaos, the kind that will change people’s lives forever … Fast forward two years and a grim discovery in the garden centre’s grounds brings new DI, Natalie Ward, front and centre in an investigation which is going to rock the local community to it’s core.
Gah – I cannot begin to express how overwhelmingly sad, creepy, tense, and heart-thumpingly good this book is. Okay – so maybe I can begin, I’m just not sure I can do it justice. Now there are truly heartbreaking moments in this book, and any parent who has mislaid their child for even five minutes will understand the overwhelming sense of dread this instills in them. But what if your child was not found and reunited with you? How would that make you feel? This is exactly the kind of emotion Carol Wyer has captured in this book. The emotional toll that the loss of Ava has on her parents is perfectly captured on the page but it also adds a layer of doubt when the new investigations begins. Are they victims like Ava – or suspects?
I don’t want to go too far into the story – it goes far beyond the disappearance of a five year old girl believe me – but I will say that there are scenes in the book which made my skin crawl and moments that will truly have you on the edge of your seat. It is a dual timeline story and we move seamlessly between the central investigation and the story of a young boy. As to how these two stories intersect, you’ll have to read for yourself but believe me it is most excellent. Both stories have the ability to surprise, shock, pull at your heart-strings and have you chomping on your nails in equal measure. I will say though that the symmetry in this book is perfect as the central theme, the title even, The Birthday, is a catalyst for the drama that is to follow in more ways than one.
I really liked the character of Natalie Ward. She is a woman haunted by a case from her past, one in which results were not overwhelmingly positive, and she is determined that she will not allow that to happen again here. A family woman, all at home is not entirely harmonious and I will be intrigued to see how that plays out in books to come. Her team are all excellent, well rounded and diverse and I am looking forward to seeing more of all of them, especially Lucy Carmichael who is keen to impress, determined, and trying to emulate Natalie who she sees as a role model, and Murray Anderson, a no nonsense Sergeant who I really grew to like quite quickly. This is a team who work well together, and along with the Crime Scene techs, especially Mike Sullivan, will fast become firm favourites of fans of the crime genre, I’m certain of it.
If you are looking for a well paced, heart-wrenching, pulse racing, edge of your seat kind of book and a crime fighting team who you can genuinely root for then look no further as this could genuinely be your next favourite read. I tore through it and I cannot wait for the next book in the series. Bravo Carol Wyer. Another cracking series here and no mistake.
If you would like to read The Birthday for yourself then it is available from the following retailers:
About the Author
Carol Wyer garnered a loyal following as an author of romantic comedies, and won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015). In 2017 she stepped from comedy to the “dark side” and embarked on a series of thrillers, featuring the popular DI Robyn Carter, which earned her recognition as a crime writer.
The Staffordshire-based writer now has more crime novels in the pipeline, although she can still sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.
Follow the tour: