'Impossible to put down and full of twists and turns you won't see coming! I loved this fabulous debut novel.' Liane Moriarty, bestselling author of Nine Perfect Strangers
'...a suspenseful suburban thriller that steals your time and won't give it back.' Crime Book of the Month, Readings.com
How can a child disappear from under the care of four playgroup mums?
One Thursday morning, Lexie Parker dashes to the shop for biscuits, leaving Bella in the safe care of the other mums in the playgroup.
Six minutes later, Bella is gone.
Police and media descend on the tiny village of Merrigang on the edge of Canberra. Locals unite to search the dense bushland. But as the investigation continues, relationships start to fracture, online hate messages target Lexie, and the community is engulfed by fear.
Is Bella's disappearance connected to the angry protests at Parliament House? What secrets are the parents hiding? And why does a local teacher keep a photo of Bella in his lounge room?
What happened in those six minutes and where is Bella?
The clock is ticking...
This gripping novel will keep you guessing to the very last twist.
Playing for keeps
Australian. Works in public relations. Co-author of two non-fiction titles. This is her debut novel. Her second The Good Teacher (2020) has just come out.
The setting is Merrigang, a fictional village near Canberra. (For those of you who are interested, there is a street of that name in Bowral). Mid-thirties museum curator turned stay-at-home Mum Lexie and her ten-years-older paediatrician hubby Martin are Aussies who have changed their name and been living in England for several years after being crucified by social media in Sydney for reasons they don't talk about but which emerge as the plot moves along. Our gal leaves Bella, her 3-year-old, in the care of the other Mums at playgroup while she hurries to the nearby shops to make amends for the heinous faux pas of bringing biscuits than contain nuts. (If only she'd bought Tim Tams in the first place, Ms McGovern wouldn't have had a story line). Lexie's away the titular six minutes (373 seconds to be precise, she was counting), but when he gets back Bella is gone and none of the other Mums or kids have a clue why. (No vodka was involved either.) There follows a desperate search, a casting of suspicion willy-nilly, and a bevy of twists and turns involving the other playgroup Mums, dodgy schoolteachers, drugs (of course), vitriolic anti-abortionists, yada, yada.
Tight, clear, well-paced, and builds suspense nicely, but is ultimately a homage to Big Little Lies. I'm not surprised Liane Moriarty gave it a tick. A tad of deus ex machina about the denouement too, although Ms McG has scattered enough red herrings about by then to get away with it.
I've lost count of the number of novels I've read about back-biting and sinister goings-on in mothers' groups and playgroups. Mind you, given that going through childbirth is the principal entry criterion, you're talking about some damaged individuals.
Easy reading, full of plots & couldn’t predict the ending. Characters were all unpredictable making it a suspenseful read. ✅
Couldn’t put it down!