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The story kept me very interested until all the ridiculous coincidences started. Seriously, daughter adopted out years ago by the wife, husband’s one night stand with barmaid who happens to be the daughter adopted out by the wife years ago who then has his baby. Cheating father and wife adopt baby who is therefore the wife’s granddaughter. Please !!!!!!!!
WOW! Just WOW! I loved this book by new-to-me author Wendy Dranfield and, although it is not my usual choice of setting as I tend to stick to British or Australian set books (simply because there are so many out there I have limit myself to my favourite setting...and those being Britain and Australia), I was completely immersed from the very beginning. Yes, it is of a missing child (of which there are many, I know) and yes there are plenty of secrets to unravel amidst the lies and deception...but WOW! If THE BIRTHDAY PARTY is anything to go by, I think I might have to add Wendy Dranfield to my list of authors...despite the continent difference! lol
A birthday party is supposed to be a happy occasion, an exciting time for children with loads of fun and food. In this case, it was adorned with every novelty imaginable for a child from jumping castles, pony rides, face painting and swimming to clowns and even fire eaters! It was a child's heaven. And 5 year old Charlotte "Charlie" Hamilton had been looking forward to her twin cousins' birthday party for weeks. It was all she could talk about.
So when the day came around, Charlie dressed herself in her red dress with zebras complete with yellow shorts underneath (for reasons only a 5 year old would know...lol), cowboy boots, cowboy hat and little blonde pigtails. Mum Kathy has no sooner pulled up outside her brother-in-law Scott's house when Charlie jumps out of the car and races around the side of the house to where all the fun and action is! And it doesn't take her long to discover the pony for which she lines up for a ride almost immediately. With so many adults in attendance, Kathy is certain her daughter will be safe at the party amongst the other children overseered by all the other parents. She takes a few minutes to say hello and give her good wishes to the birthday twins before making her escape. Having arranged for babysitter Megan to collect Charlie when the event is over, Kathy then heads to the refuge where she volunteers despite the migraine that continues to pound her head before keeping an important appointment with husband Mitch at 4pm.
Little did they know...
Several hours later, Kathy and Mitch arrive home to discover that Megan and Charlie aren't there when the party should well and truly be over. They try calling Megan on her mobile phone. No answer. They return to the party where all the children have now gone as have the entertainment and all that remains are a few inebriated adults with no clue as to where Charlie is or when they last saw her. Frantic with worry, Kathy calls the police to report her daughter's disappearance.
Enter Detective Chase Cooper. He and Kathy knew each other decades ago back in high school and used to date, much to her snobbish parents' chagrin as they saw him as being from "the wrong side of the tracks". But for the privileged Kathy, Chase was her first love and although she tried hiding their relationship it all went terribly wrong and she is devastated when it fell apart. But despite their history, Chase immediately begins the search for Charlie at Scott and Cindy's house, its sprawling grounds and beyond whilst trying to ascertain exactly where Megan has also disappeared to.
And then the hidden cracks of the prestigious Hamilton family facade begin to surface exposing the secrets and lies that have been maintained for decades...and nothing is as it seems. Bit by bit, the mystery unravels only to reveal yet another twist of which there are a litany!
The author has carefully constructed a tangled web of secrets and deception that are so intricately woven and, by revealing just enough along the way, keeping the reader invested and giving the impression of knowing what's happening...and then she tosses in another twist that opens up a completely different possibility. The plot was so skillfully woven that it had me completely fooled for much of the book. I did suspect a few twists along the way but mostly I was in the dark and had no idea where it was heading. And just before the final reveals, a light went on and I knew exactly where it was heading and I couldn't keep up for flipping the pages of my kindle so fast in a heart-stopping race to the end!
OK so some of the story maybe a tad far-fetched but this is fiction. And what we enjoy is fast paced, thrill ride, addictive reads that throw us so many twists that keep us engaged throughout. Who cares if it's not entirely believable? For the most part it is. And that's what balances out the far-fetched bits because at that point you're so invested in the story you don't care if it's real or not. Just that it is one hell of a ride!! And it is!
The characters are all developed enough for the picture they are depicted in. Some of them are endearing and some are hateful. I loved Chase's reliability and Megan's no nonsense style. Fay reminded me of a baby bird that takes tentative steps to see if it's safe. I sympathised with Kathy for the most part but her blindness when it came to her mother at times was irritating. Sure, she's her mother but the woman was downright rude and controlling. Nowhere did I see her "good intentions" that Kathy often talked about.
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY also contains some triggering issues for some readers but to mention them could potentially be a spoiler but I do feel it should be pointed out despite this so readers can judge whether is appropriate in such a case. Without giving too much away there is abuse and assault as well as slightly graphic crime scenes, while not overly graphic they cam be enough to upset some readers.
With its vivid descriptions and atmosphere, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY is a fast paced read that is chilling in part but oh so addictive! It is nail-biting, page-turning and heart-racing that I stayed up well into the night and into the wee hours of the morning just to finish it! And when I did I can honestly say I was speechless. THE BIRTHDAY PARTY was jaw-dropping to the extreme throughout like no other thriller I have read...and I've read plenty! This book just keeps on giving with twists and bombshells despite the red herrings peppered throughout. Not many crime thriller writers can hoodwink me but Wendy Dranfield has done it more than once in this book alone!
If you have not read THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, I can only say you need to do yourself a favour and go out and grab yourself a copy...because you won't be sorry. It is definitely one of those "just one more chapter" books that you end up reading way past your bedtime and into the wee hours of the early morning...
An addictive heart-racing thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and blow your mind over and over again!!
Recommended for fans of Lisa Jewell, Louise Jensen, Nicola Marsh, C.L. Taylor and Teresa Driscoll.
What was supposed to be a happy occasion turns into a nightmare when a little girl goes missing from her cousins birthday party. A family with secrets to hide, you won’t know who you can trust in this emotionally charged and gripping read.
I told myself I was going to take a break from reading stories involving a missing child, but when I was made aware of this book and its author, I knew I just had to read it and I am so glad that I did! Wendy Dranfield has produced a highly addictive and perfectly written tale that had me on the edge of my seat and gripping my Kindle so hard! A thrilling page turner from start, the tension and suspense is off the charts and with twists and turns thrown in along the way, makes The Birthday Party such a compelling and must read.
Thanks to Bookouture, Wendy Drainfield and Netgalley for the ARC for an honest opinion.
“The Birthday Party” is my first book by Wendy Dranfield, and may I say it was a great start to her books. Kathy Hamilton drops off her daughter (Charlotte) at her cousin’s birthday party. She has arranged for the nanny to collect her later in the day, but when Kathy arrives home, she finds the house empty, thinking they are still at the party she rings her brother-in-law, but Kathy isn’t there she left hours ago and the nanny doesn’t pick up the phone.
It's a parent's nightmare when their child is missing, the longer they’re missing the chances of finding them alive is slim. That’s why Kathy’s parents are desperate to find her as soon as possible. The police are quickly informed, the case is handled by Detective Chase Cooper (who has a history with Kathy back in high school).
The more Chase investigates, the more he finds out the lies, deception and secrets of Hamilton’s harbour. The story builds gradually with every passing chapter, what I loved was the way the story is structured, for example, when Kathy meets Chase, the author takes you to the time when they were back in high school and explains their relationship at the time which I find adds to the story. There is a character which I detested, he/she (I’m not telling) is antagonistic and narcissistic, a very toxic person.
I don’t usually read missing children books as I find them to upsetting , however this one caught my eye and wow I’m so glad I chose it . I couldn’t stop reading / listening I finished it in less then 48 hours . I was hanging on every word in every chapter . Although the storyline is very dark it’s beautiful written and isn’t all about the missing child it’s filled with love and hope and how family’s can conquer such sorrow , it’s a beautiful story with wonderful characters. 100% must read !
I like thrillers, but this was an incredible read. A young girl disappeared at a birthday party, and then the suspense started. There were several suspects and the twists just kept on coming. Family secrets erupted and added to the tension. A very good read.
I couldn't stop reading this book. It is without doubt THE best book I have ever read. It gripped me from the first page. This should be made into a film. I'm looking forward to reading her other books.