Playdate by Alex Dahl

Today it is my pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Playdate, the brand new thriller from author Alex Dahl. I love a good mystery and this book had everything I was looking for. My thanks to Midas PR for inviting me to be part of the tour and to publishers Head of Zeus for providing the advance copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy

About the Book

It was meant to be your daughter’s first sleepover.
Now it’s an abduction.

Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, her mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and shared a glass of wine with Josie’s mother. Then she kissed her little girl goodnight and drove home.

That was the last time she saw her daughter.

The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.

In Playdate, Alex Dahl puts a microscope on a seemingly average, seemingly happy family plunged into a life-altering situation.

Who has taken their daughter, and why?

My Thoughts

I’m not a parent, but I think that one of the worst fears for most parents has to be the chance that something bad could happen to your child. Be it accident, injury or worse, just that whole idea of their safety being put in jeopardy, especially because of something that you have, or haven’t done, is something that must cut to the core. With Play Date, Alex Dahl has taken that whole idea and injected with with steroids, watching it grow into a thriller that is full of mystery, tension and absolute emotion, and will likely make you want to hug your children that little bit tighter, while they are still young enough to let you, of course.

The idea of a sleepover is as old as they come. One of those moments that every child generally experiences at some stage, accompanied by the bleary eyes and weariness that every parent knows will follow as children spend half the night awake, giggling at some uninterpretable funny or conversation. For Lucia Blix, that night of giggles turn into a night of fear because her first ever sleepover is about to become permanent. With the story told from several points of view, that of Lucia’s mother, Elisa, journalist Selma, Lucia herself, Jacqueline, the woman suspected of abducting Lucia and Marcus, whose role in the story is not immediately clear. These very different perspectives on Lucia’s abduction will tug at your heart strings, heighten your suspicion of practically everyone and keep you on your guard, increasing the sense of mystery and suspense as we try to understand what would drive a mother to take another woman’s child. It is a story driven by emotion, intrigue and tension that kept me glued to the story from start to finish.

In creating the characters, Alex Dahl has played a very clever game. If I am being honest, it is only really Lucia and to a lesser degree her father and young brother, that I have any kind of sympathy for although over the course of the story I did develop more of a connection towards Marcus. Selma is an interesting character, fighting for the truth not only to satisfy her journalistic instinct, but also because something about the story never quite sat well with her as it didn’t with me as a reader. It is very clear that Elisa is holding something back which makes it hard to warm towards her as I could not understand how someone in her position would not be completely honest about what has happened if it might help her find her daughter. This sense of dishonesty plays throughout the book, as does the theme of loss. and although I could never warm to or condone Jacqueline’s actions, it was clear that she is being haunted by some awful tragedy and that her behaviour and motivation is jumbled as a result.

This was a really interesting novel that takes you right to the heart of a family in the midst of a devastating situation. The author portrays the angst and the emotion perfectly, the way in which Elisa moves from determination to despair written in a pitch perfect way. It is not a particularly action filled book, although the chapters are short and snappy, drawing the reader into that sense of needing to read ‘just one more chapter’ and moving the story on at a fairly brisk pace. Although the point of view changes quite frequently, and there are many voices to keep clear in your head, it was easy to follow, each switch in perspective upping the ante in terms of tension and understanding of what is happening. It is Lucia’s chapters which drew me in the most though, and the way in which the author played out her adaption to her new circumstances whilst never really losing sight of who she really was made me root for her even more. She was one tough kid in an impossible situation but her strength was memorable.

A really intriguing thriller that will have you considering background checks on your friends family next time they ask about a sleepover. Afterall, you never know what might happen …

About the Author

Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian author. Born in Oslo, she studied Russian and German linguistics with international studies, then went on to complete an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and an MSc in business management at Bath University. A committed Francophile, Alex loves to travel, and has so far lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland, Bath and London. She is the author of two other thrillers: The Heart Keeper, and The Boy at the Door, which was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger.

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