Author: Nicole Trope

Publisher/Year: Allen &Unwin/2017

Publisher Synopsis

 In a single day, a simple mistake will have life-altering consequences for everyone involved… A gripping domestic noir thriller from the author of Blame.

All Malia needed was a single litre of milk and now she’s surrounded by police and Zach has disappeared.

Detective Ali Greenberg knows that this is not the best case for her, not with her history – but she of all people knows what Malia is going through and what is at stake.

Edna is worried about the new residents at the boarding house. She knows Mary would turn in her grave if she knew the kinds of people her son was letting in.

And then there is someone else. Someone whose heart is broken. Someone who feels she has been unfairly punished for her mistakes. Someone who wants what she can’t have.

What follows is a heart-stopping game of cat-and-mouse and a race against the clock. As the hours pass and the day heats up, all hope begins to fade.

 Reviewer: Sue Dalziel

Imagine a particularly difficult morning where nothing is going well. The kids are their usual noisy selves; you’ve been a little late getting started due to your husband’s demands. Your husband has already left for work leaving you with getting the older two kids ready for school and kindergarten AND there is no milk left for their breakfasts. You think that they can breakfast without milk, but they know better. It takes the reader little time to connect to the main character, Malia. This is such a familiar scene to most and therein lies the appeal of this book.

Malia’s day gets worse, much worse when she finally gives in to the kids and bundles them and their five-month-old baby brother into the car to go to the local 7/11. Arriving at the 7/11, of course, the kids don’t want to stay in the car; she must disturb the baby’s sleep and take him in too. NO! The three-year-old runs out in the carpark. Must stop her. Get the kids and into the convenience store thinking I’ll just grab the milk and gather up the kids and back to the car. Into the store. Predictably, the 3-year-old creates a disturbance just at the time the mother realises that the baby is still in the car. There is a long wait to pay; you give the older child the money and tell him to pay for the milk while you investigate the problem with the three-year-old. Back to the car get the kids in, buckle up, and back to home. Just one small problem. A mother’s nightmare has begun – Where is the baby?

Without giving away the ending I can say that the book is told through four distinctive voices: Malia’s, the kidnapper’s, a much older woman, and the investigating police officer. In the end, I think you will feel for each of these characters. The main characters, all women, are all painfully familiar. Because we can all relate to the characters this is a believable and frighteningly real story .

The reader finds themselves connecting with the female characters, even the perpetrator of this crime.  Oh yes, I hear people saying I’d never behave like that but the reality is that we all have undeniably out of character moments that show our darker sides when we do things that we come to wish we never had done. If you deny this you are lying to yourself.

However, the story does follow a familiar pattern in its telling. This is not to denigrate the formula but to a knowledge it.  A pattern both believable and somewhat predictable, especially if one is familiar with both Trope and Jodi Picoult’s writing.  Both authors follow the same basic formula enormously well.

Trope has five other published books. This book, like her other books, has current issues at its base which are explored through family dramas. Trope interweaves what the community is talking about whilst exploring dysfunction in family relationships focusing on the mother and motherhood in all its glory. Trope does this extremely well. Whilst a bit slow at the start it soon has you quickly turning the pages  to find out what happens next. Trope has well and truly mastered her genre, and if you love it you will love every one of her novels.

An enjoyable read that will put you through an emotional roller-coaster and carry you along with all the main characters to the end which is neatly tied together in the final chapters.

Trope is an accomplished author with five other books to her name including: The Secrets of Silence; Hush Little Bird; and Blame.