Clara Solberg’s infant son is only four days old when the police come to her door to tell her that her husband Nick and her daughter Maisie have in a serious car accident. Maisie is unharmed but Nick soon dies, leaving Clara alone with two young children and no income. To make matters worse, Maisie keeps having nightmares about being chased off the road by a ‘bad man’. Clara initially chalks it up to trauma and Maisie being a four year old, but soon other things begin to stand out. Why are there mysterious footprints in the mud underneath the window? Why did Nick cancel his life insurance policy weeks before his death? Why was there a restraining order against one of his patients? Who is Kat, the mysterious woman who just shows up in Nick’s life, and why hasn’t he told Clara about her?
I’m of two minds about this book. Part of me likes it. It’s quite well-written (though don’t go in expecting high art) and Clara is likeable enough. Some of the clues are tantalising, and Clara cuts a sympathetic figure as she battles insomnia and tries to deal with grief, not always in the best ways. We also see the events through Nick’s eyes, and though he’s a little bland his actions are understandable, though his secrecy and needless risk-taking, all done under the guise of sheltering his wife, are worthy of several eye rolls.
Looking at Goodreads, though, I can see this book wasn’t particularly well-liked. At first I wondered why, but the criticisms mostly seem to have one thing in common: this book has a bit of a marketing problem. People feel let down by the ending. I didn’t mind, per sé. Without wanting to give too much away I thought it was a refreshing way of looking at things, but there is also a sense of frustration in the denouement. It kind of cuts both ways. More frustrating is the way Clara parents; it’s understandable that she’s not at her best and her patience with Maisie is admirable, but her refusal to talk to Maisie about what happened if painful in a way I’m not sure it was meant to be.
Ultimately, I enjoyed this book, but if you’re looking for a gripping thriller with a spectacular plot twist, you’re better off looking elsewhere.