The Push by Claire McGowan #bookreview

Happy publication day to Claire McGowan. Her latest novel The Push is out today. With thanks to Sophie Goodfellow for sending me a copy to review.


From the bestselling author of What You Did comes a stunning psychological thriller. One party. Thirteen people. By 3.02 p.m., one of them will be dead.

The party should have been perfect: six couples from the same baby group, six newborns, a luxurious house. But not everything has gone to plan, and while some are here to celebrate, others have sorrows to drown. When someone falls from the balcony of the house, the secrets and conflicts within the group begin to spill out …

DS Alison Hegarty, herself struggling with infertility, is called in to investigate. She’s convinced the fall was not an accident, and finds the new parents have a lot to hide. Wealthy Ed and Monica show off their newborn while their teenage daughter is kept under virtual house arrest. Hazel and Cathy conceived their longed-for baby via an anonymous sperm donor—or so Hazel thinks. Anita and Jeremy planned to adopt from America, but there’s no sign of the child. Kelly, whose violent boyfriend disrupted previous group sessions, came to the party even though she lost her baby. And then there’s Jax, who’s been experiencing strange incidents for months—almost like someone’s out to get her. Is it just a difficult pregnancy? Or could it be payback for something she did in the past?

It’s a nightmare of a case, and as events get even darker it begins to look impossible. Only one thing is clear: they all have something to hide. And for one of them, it’s murder.


I’m a big fan of Claire McGowan’s writing, so I jumped at the chance to read her latest novel, The Push. I found the writing highly addictive. I was drawn into the world, Claire’s new set of characters inhabit and I was engrossed in their lives. What I thought was interesting about this book, is that we know someone has died, but we don’t know who it is straight away. That is gradually revealed over the course of the book, and it’s what I found all the more intriguing. I thought it was an ingenious idea and I thought it was done very well.

The novel focuses on a group of new mums. Six of them are having a party to celebrate the arrival of their new babies. They have steadily grown closer over the last few months as their pregnancies have progressed. The party, however, ends in catastrophe when one member of the group ends up dead. It is up to DS Alison Hegarty to work out if there was foul play here or if the death was a tragic accident. She is determined to find out the truth.

The characters are all very different. It was interesting seeing them all interact with each other, and it kept me thinking about which ones really got on with one another.  It is clear that they all have their own opinions of each member of the group, and this is what drives tension between them. This is even though some of them seem to be quite close friends.  

Alison has a complex case on her hands to deal with. There are conflicting accounts about what happened the night of the party. Which one of them is telling the truth? Who can Alison trust? The book is primarily told from the viewpoint of Jax and Allison. Jax is an interesting character having recently got together with a twenty-four-year-old man; Jax is in her late thirties. Prior to her getting together with her most recent boyfriend, Jax broke off her relationship with her previous partner just before they were about to get married. I did wonder about her decision to date someone quite a few years younger than she was.

Alison is also a character who I liked and found interesting. Although she wants to see the investigation through, it’s clear that she finds being surrounded by this group of new mum’s difficult. Allison would like to be a mum herself but has found getting pregnant difficult. This did make me wonder if this would have any effect on her investigation.

I loved the final denouement as the story raced towards its conclusion. It was clear that the book could still go either way and Claire McGowan kept me utterly gripped until I reached the final page.

The Push was highly engrossing. For me, this was more of a character driven story, and I really liked that. Claire McGowan breathes life into them, keeping you completely invested in the novel. An excellent read, I really enjoyed it.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 12th November 2020

Print length: 367 pages

The Push is available to buy:

Amazon UK

What You Did by Claire McGowan #bookreview blog tour @inkstainsclaire @damppebbles @AmazonPub @EmmaFinnigan

I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Claire McGowan’s latest thriller, What You Did on my blog today. With thanks to Emma Welton from Damppebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part.

What You Did by [McGowan, Claire]


A vicious assault. A devastating accusation. Who should she trust, her husband or her best friend?

It was supposed to be the perfect reunion: six university friends together again after twenty years. Host Ali finally has the life she always wanted, a career she can be proud of and a wonderful family with her college boyfriend, now husband. But that night her best friend makes an accusation so shocking that nothing will ever be the same again.

When Karen staggers in from the garden, bleeding and traumatised, she claims that she has been assaulted—by Ali’s husband, Mike. Ali must make a split-second decision: who should she believe? Her horrified husband, or her best friend? With Mike offering a very different version of events, Ali knows one of them is lying—but which? And why?

When the ensuing chaos forces her to re-examine the golden era the group shared at university, Ali realises there are darker memories too. Memories that have lain dormant for decades. Memories someone would kill to protect.


I was definitely intrigued when I learned that Claire McGowan had written a stand-alone thriller, having previously read her Paula Maguire novels I knew I was in for a treat.

There’s an intense opening to What You Did. Twenty-five years after a group of friends first got together at university they are having a get together. But calamity strikes when one member of the group, Karen, enters her friend, Ali’s house, and tells Ali that her husband, Mike, has raped her. Ali is torn between her best friend and her husband. Who does she support? Who should she believe? But as an intense police investigation ensues, it brings back haunting memories from their time at university, when one of their classmates was murdered. No one was ever caught for their friend’s murder. Could they finally find out what happened all those years ago?

This was a real page-turner. Right from the shocking opening, I wanted to know what the outcome for Ali and her family was going to be. I was convinced there was definitely more to the situation they now found themselves in. And then I was trying to work out if anyone else in the group could have been responsible for what happened to Ali, or if someone else could have gained access to the property. This was another possible theory I kept thinking about.

Each character kept me asking questions, particularly about their time at university twenty-five years ago when one of their friends was killed. I was convinced they knew more than they were letting on. There’s a darkness that runs right throughout the book, especially when there is an even more shocking turn of events which forces Ali into an impossible dilemma, and she learns some horrifying truths. She is a character who goes through a lot of emotions in this book, and she is someone who is torn between her loyalties.

This is a top, extremely well written psychological thriller from Claire McGowan with strong character development. I’ve always found her writing gripping, and her latest book is no exception. I was kept hooked right the way through.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 1st August 2019

Print length: 269 pages

If you would like to purchase What You Did, you can do so by clicking on the following link below. 

Amazon UK


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