Look! Another series… but this time it’s a book one (and a fabulous one at that)! As a fan of the DI Robyn Carter series, I simply couldn’t resist checking out The Birthday from NetGalley and my impatience was duly rewarded. Quick paced and complex, the DI Natalie Ward series by Caro Wyer is shaping up to be an exciting new adventure.
Title: The Birthday
Author: Carol Wyer
Publication Date: 27 September 2018
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedural
Themes: Murder, Family, Serial Killers
My Rating: 4.5/ 5
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?
Whoa, what is this strange magic? Two reviews in less than a week? Don’t get too used to it my fellow book lovers, I’m moving at the end of the month and I seem to be having a bout of productivity as a direct result of avoiding my packing… needless to say things will change!
But enough about me, let’s talk about a book! Today’s review is for Carol Wyer’s latest creation, The Birthday. This beauty marks the start of the DI Natalie Ward series, and has all the promise of a rollicking rollercoaster ride as her story unfolds. As a hardworking mother, and breadwinner in the family, DI Ward is a character that I’m sure many will be able to relate to. She’s strong, dedicated, hella persistent and even a little fickle but she’s written in such a way that you can’t help but feel for her and her family.
I enjoyed the tension created through the juxtaposition of Natalie’s disastrous home life against a chilling cold case and obvious serial killer. Given the sacrifices that Natalie is making to keep her family together and children provided for, the fact that the killer is taking young girls only adds to the horror. Her fear and anxiety as both an officer and a mother is expertly transmitted, and as a result the plot moves along at a break-neck speed.
Surprisingly, I ended up really feeling for Elsa, the garden centre owner despite the outward appearances of avoiding the case. I couldn’t imagine living with the guilt of a child going missing while under your care. The damage to her business was realistic and expected, but in the aftermath of what happened at the hands of her friends and the community I couldn’t help but getting really angry. It simply goes to show how guilt can be misconstrued as guilty, and how fickle people can be.
The supporting cast of other officers and possible suspects was just as intriguing. Everyone from the dance teacher to the school staff, and from the forensics team to the pathologist was wonderfully balanced. There was a reasonable mix of personalities and character types, and their appearances were made in such a way that while these characters were familiar they never felt overly type-cast.
Finally, the writing was exceptional as well. While Wyer tackles some incredibly heavy subjects – adultery, missing and murdered children, addiction, etc. – the lexile used throughout remains realistic and approachable to the masses. While there are certainly some scientific terms bandied about, they are always accompanied by dialogue or description that translates though terms and concepts into the language of the lay-person. As a result, I found that the book was highly approachable.
Would I recommend it? All 4.5 stars of it, you bet! I can’t wait to see where this series will go next as Wyer has laid the foundation for some exciting storylines to develop. I can’t wait to see what case the team will take on next and how DI Ward will handle her husband’s gambling addictions. This book is dark, twisty, and wonderfully gripping – lovers of police procedurals and crime thrillers you won’t be disappointed!
Many thanks to Carol Wyer, Bookouture, and NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.