Author: Heidi Perks
Rating: 4 stars
Dates read: 25 Jan 20 – 29 Jan 20
Publication date: 01 Jun 2018
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
NOW YOU SEE HER
She’s playing at the school fete with your children. You pull out your phone, scroll through Facebook, and look up again.
NOW YOU DON’T
Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.
Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable, tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.
Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.
Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PUT THINGS RIGHT?
*I received a copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Century in exchange for a fair and honest review*
I received this book from NetGalley at a time when I was trying to read more contemporary fiction, but for whatever reason, I didn’t pick it up. I didn’t connect with the cover and the idea, but I knew that it sounded like something I could like. So I waited, and I waited, and I waited some more, and finally decided to dive in, and found a complex and compelling narrative that I should have consumed so much earlier.
Now You See Her is split into two halves and tracks two timelines that combine to create the overarching story and I guess mystery that progresses throughout the novel. Harriet and Charlotte, at the beginning of the book, are two seemingly normal mothers and good friends. The first half of the book is told from Charlotte’s perspective, sure we still see the story when she isn’t there, but it is from her point of view or as a third person, a feature which switches to Harriet half way through the book. I think the tool was used well, it opened different character aspects and stories well and undoubtedly had to be the way round it was in the story.
The story itself centred around the mysterious disappearance of Harriet’s only daughter and the subsequent search to find her. I had something fixed in my mind as to what I thought had happened and was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t quite as straight forward as I thought it was progressing to be. Charlotte is a fairly straight forward character unlike Harriet who is surprising and challenging and fascinating, again a combination that progressed the story at differing speeds, allowing the twists to present themselves.
I can’t say that I actually liked any of the characters. The women were great friends, and the deep bond remains through the story even if their surface relationship is strained as the books events unfold. The side characters with respect to the ‘friends’ of the pair (more accurately Charlotte) were fairly detestable but worryingly imaginable. No-one likes to think of parents and friends thinking the worst, abandoning, or judging people, but you know that it happens and I think Perks presented that trait of adulthood extremely well, even if it was an unpleasant aspect to the story. The men were, much like the women, a mix of complex and simple. Charlotte’s ex-husband is OK, seemingly long-suffering but over-archingly well-meaning, he simply exists in the story. Brian, however, is horrible, controlling, and the worst type of man/father/husband imaginable. While I know his evolution is a reality for some, and I know was required for the story to take place, I found him unbearably horrid and completely unrelatable.
I am trying to tip-toe carefully around the plot, because ultimately the book unfolds in a complex weave to create what turned into an emotional rollercoaster and carefully thought out mystery. I didn’t quite connect completely with the book. Sure, I read and devoured it quickly, but once I was finished I was quite happy to be done and move on, an unusual personal feeling when finishing any form of mystery book. There was a depth and a power to the story, but I think that would be more acutely felt if the reader were a parent, or a gaslit partner, or someone whose story can be found between the pages.
Ultimately, it was a good book and a good story, but it wasn’t spectacular. It had depth and drive, but lacked some form of ultimate connection that stopped it wowing me.