Her husband David was supposed to be looking after their two week old daughter. But when Alice Fancourt walks into the nursery, her terrifying ordeal begins, for Alice insists the baby in the cot is a stranger she’s never seen before. With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it’s too late?
Thrillers like this are not usually my cup of tea, but this was delightfully sinister and outstandingly gripping. When the book starts, Alice gets under your skin and you are unwaveringly convinced that what she says is true, and that David must be guilty of swapping their baby.
But why would he do this, when their life seemed so perfect before the book started? And what of David’s mother, Alice’s step mother? She’s extremely controlling in every aspect of their lives, she even convinced David to move into her house with his new wife, so she could ‘help out’. Throughout the book, my opinion shifted from David to Vivienne as the guilty party. The things she did, like taking Alice’s handbag and mobile phone to stop her from leaving the house made her seem guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
But David is not exactly behaving rationally to say his new wife is so completely convinced that the baby is not hers. Even if she was wrong, he’s not at all sympathetic. Assuming Alice was wrong, she’d clearly have had to have some sort of mental breakdown, but David doesn’t care. He goes so far as to try and make Alice seem even more insane, locking away her clothes and making her eat her food off the floor. By this point in the book, I was convinced that either David or Vivienne were behind this entire scheme.
Running parallel to Alice’s story is the perspective of the detective tasked with investigating the baby-switch, and Alice’s subsequent disappearance a week later with the other baby. He’s convinced that she must have been kidnapped, but he also thinks that there’s more to the story. In the week that he was investigating the baby-switch before the disappearance, he formed an attachment to Alice and he is determined to find out what has happened to her, which also brings him to re-investigate the murder of David’s first wife, for which a man has already been found guilty and sent to prison.
The end of the book reaches a very surprising conclusion, one that I won’t write about here because if I did, there’d be no point you reading the book (which I highly suggest that you do). I did not expect the book to end the way it did, but it all made perfect sense. I couldn’t imagine a better way for it to end.
Definite 5 star book, and I will be looking up more of Sophie Hannah’s books when I lift my self-imposed book buying ban.