Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Review: The Birthday by Carol Wyer

The Birthday (Detective Natalie Ward, Book #1)
by Carol Wyer
Release Date: September 27th 2018
2018 Bookouture
Kindle Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1786815378
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

When five-year-old Ava Sawyer goes missing from a birthday party at a local garden centre, the police are bewildered by the lack of leads. That is until two years later, when Ava's body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party ...

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward. A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that ended very badly.

Natalie soon discovers that Ava's mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she's sure Ava's father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she's not telling Natalie ...

Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn't come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken?

My Thoughts
The Birthday is the first book in the Natalie Ward series and I enjoyed it tremendously.  With an amazing amount of twists and turns, I had to work really hard trying to figure out who the culprit was, and I enjoyed the events and journey along the way.  I am a huge fan of this author and was happy to see a new series featuring a woman detective, one with two teenage children, working hard at keeping her marriage together yet dealing with a demanding job that keeps her away from her not quite so understanding family.  

I usually stay away from murder cases involving children, but having read books by this author before, I knew she would treat the material with sensitivity, and she definitely did.  Unfortunately, Natalie joins the force just as little Ava's body was discovered, after having been missing for two years, when a local construction company digs up her remains during an expansion.  Natalie was still recovering from her previous case which didn't go very well, so finding the remains of a little girl threw all of her guards she had built around her up in the air.  I really loved her character; she was approachable, but still tough as the lead detective, trying to balance a family life and work, with a husband who was suffering with a complex after being laid off from his own job.  Working with a team that actually gets along (quite refreshing), she put a lot of pressure on herself to find the killer before he struck again.  Her fear of failure kept her going day after day as she didn't want a repeat of the previous case, one of which we only get a glimpse.  

I have always liked this author's writing, and this book is no exception, gripping the reader right from the beginning.  Trying to figure out the killer was not my primary objective as I was too interested in Natalie's story, how she worked and how she interacted with her colleagues.  I was quite impressed with Natalie and I have to give the author kudos for creating a complete package character, one who is strong and intelligent, but is still flawed.  The book moved quickly from scene to scene, quite cohesively, and I definitely liked all of the members of the team.  

The Birthday is a good start to this new series and I am looking forward to seeing what Detective Natalie is confronted with next.  As with any first book in a series, we have just been introduced to a variety of characters so I am looking forward to some character development and seeing where the author takes them as I enjoyed the people on Natalie's team and would love to see more of them. The story is fast-paced and well-structured with an interesting little story line about the killer.  Highly recommended.