J.P. Delaney (Hachette Australia: Quercus) 2022, 389pp, RRP $32.99 (paperback); $45.00 (hardback); $15.99 (e-Book); $39.99 (audiobook)

Delaney’s fifth novel (published shortly after his first, The Girl Before, was adapted for TV) is another psychological drama/thriller, this time with a slightly harder edge simply because it’s all about family. And not in a good way, shall we say.

Susie Jukes, a successful musician living with her husband Gabe outside London, is contacted out of the blue by Anna, who claims to be Susie’s daughter, and when they meet up it is indeed true, and Susie is blissfully happy. And that might be the story as a whole in a different book, but this is J.P. Delaney we’re talking about.

Anna lives with adoptive parents who are apparently awful to her, but when Susie and Gabe try and help the troubled teen, not only do said parents come after them but they’re slapped with several legal problems as well. Yet they persist: Susie not only wants to be a good Mum, but she’s also haunted by guilt about the life she lived when Anna was a baby, and why the child was put up for adoption in the first place.

We’re also invited to consider if Anna is dangerously deluded herself, especially as the perspective and narrator naturally shift, but this is J.P. Delaney we’re talking about, again, so nothing is ever quite as simple as that too.

Offering another plot that keeps on twisting and turning back on itself, this carefully keeps the big revelations within the range of legal probability, which means that no matter what Susie and Gabe do, they’re genuinely trapped. But, nevertheless, they go on fighting to be good parents.

And forgive… somehow.

Dave Bradley

This title is available through the Hachette Australia website. Click HERE to purchase your copy.

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