The occasional giveaway on Twitter leads to gems which I might not have found in other ways, so I was delighted that Harper HQ sent me a proof of Give Me The Child a few weeks ago!
‘You won’t want to eat, sleep or blink’ Tammy Cohen
An unexpected visitor.
Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.
A devastating secret.
But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.
Do we get the children we deserve?
Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…
Compulsive, dark and devastating, Give Me the Child is a uniquely skilful thriller with an unforgettable twist
I very much enjoyed this thriller. Similar in tone to lots of other books I’ve read this year, including Sometimes I Lie, I actually thought that this one stood out among the crowds. This was for a couple of reasons.
- The narrator. Often the narrator in these books is a wine-sodden drunk who’s unreliable in every way, and I find it hard to credit that they could solve this mystery in between their alcoholic blackouts. Cat’s not perfect – she has a lot of stuff going on – but she’s together enough to at least present something which resembles an active and contributing member of society.
- Also the narrator: She still has her secrets though, and she isn’t perfect. She does some shady things in pursuit of her goals, and clearly lacks empathy regarding Ruby, a little girl who has just lost her mother.
- Ruby Winter. Always referred to by her full name by Cat (for reasons probably relating to lack of connection/ostracism), Ruby is a dark, tormented little girl who is dealing with some massive life changes, and struggling with it all. But is there more to her than meets the eye?
- The neighbour. I’ve forgotten her name, because I’m the worst, but honestly, I think she was the most fun character in the whole book, and I enjoyed every second she was on the page
- The ending. Although advertised as ‘a twist that will take your breath away’, I really did not get that feeling. I had already copped what was going on well before it was revealed. What I really enjoyed was the fact that the ending (and epilogue) didn’t involve eighteen deaths and a knife at someone’s throat, while sharks with lasers on their heads swam around (of course, I exaggerate). This book dealt with a single main issue, of Ruby Winter, and dealt with it bloody well, without diverging into fantastical territory of twenty-year revenge plots and the killer actually being your ex-husband, etc. etc. Thumbs up for that.
So those were five main reasons that I really liked this book. But then there were a few reasons that knocked it from five to four stars for me. The fact that Cat always referred to Ruby as Ruby Winter. I get that it was to create distance from her, but it grated on me after the first, like, three instances. Just call her by her first name, there’s no need for surnames! The lack of development of Cat’s husband as a character. He’s her partner, her lover, her husband, her greatest advocate – but he’s not a very real character. The same applies to Cat’s sister, Sal. She’s there a lot, in the background, but her development is thin to non-existent. But these issues were only minor, and knocked a single star off what was otherwise a hugely enjoyable book, which I read in delight. I will definitely look out for more from Mel McGrath, as I felt like she really has a handle on writing a main character (and a book) that feels really real.