One hot summer’s afternoon, five-year-old Ava Sawyer went to a party. She never came home…
Two years later, 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 still keeps her awake at night…
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?
The Birthday is the start to a gripping new police procedural series from Carol Wyer introducing DI Natalie Ward, and it is such a chilling read. I think every parent is plunged into fear whenever their child runs off, either in a strop, or just simply being mischievous. I did it to my own parents a couple of times when I was small, in a huge shopping centre, and I can still remember, twenty odd years later, the fear I felt when I realised my mum was no longer nearby. And Carol captures this same fear so well in this book.
The book opens in 2015 when we are thrown into a child’s birthday party at a petting zoo, attached to a crafts centre. Ava Sawyer is at the centre here as she simply vanishes after the people responsible for the children take their eyes off her for just a few seconds. Now two years later her remains have been discovered a short distance away, and DI Natalie Ward leads a new team in the hunt for her killer, but as the investigation progresses more children are kidnapped, children who had some connection to Ava. Will Natalie be able to find the killer in time before they strike again?
Carol Wyer has created an absolutely gripping plot in The Birthday. I really felt as though the police were racing against the clock to find the killer in time to stop them from taking another child. This is what made this book such an intense read heightened by the killer’s thoughts which we hear from throughout the book, and we get to see just what a disturbed individual this person is. I really wanted Natalie and her team to catch them in time before they made their next move, and there was always that impending sense of doom that they were one step ahead of the police.
Natalie is a detective who is haunted by her past failures, and you can see that she is determined to find the girls in time and to bring the perpetrator to justice. She is a character who I really cared about, and I wanted her to stop blaming herself as I could see how this was affecting her. But it is what has made her the detective she is today, and she is another fine addition to the crime fiction world. I got the sense that her team all worked really well together and I particularly liked Natalie and Lucy Carmichael’s working relationship; I can’t wait to see how they will both progress in future books.
For me, the pace did drop a little bit in the middle, but it really picked up again in the end as everything started to come together for the detectives. I was rooting for them to get to the answers all the way through.
I will certainly be reading the next book in the series very soon, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for Natalie and her team next. With brilliant, engaging writing and memorable characters, I think this is another series that will become a firm favourite of mine.
Publication date: 27th September 2018
Print length: 304 pages
If you would like to purchase The Birthday you can do so by clicking on the following link below.