Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante

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Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante

Buy Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A moody atmosphere and an unlikable heroine make for a not very thrilling thriller. Best for a beach holiday read, or to spot familiar locations if you've ever visited Half Moon Bay.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2018
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781785659621

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Half Moon Bay is a small town on the west coast of America, a little down from San Francisco. Jane has just moved there, to start a new life after losing everything when her teenage daughter was killed and her husband left her. Although she has begun to find a little peace in the quiet, seaside town, one day a child goes missing, bringing back painful memories for Jane of her grief and loss and, also, rousing the suspicions of the local townsfolk that she is somehow involved in the disappearance.

For our honeymoon, my husband and I camped up the west coast of America, and my favourite place along the way was Half Moon Bay, so I jumped to pick up this book. You do get a sense of the small seaside town, and I enjoyed the descriptions through the story, particularly of the plants and the nature in the area as Jane's job is in a plant nursery. Still, this wasn't a pleasant nostalgia trip for me because of course the story is dealing with missing children, and the atmosphere becomes increasingly disturbing through the book. There's often mist or fog smothering the town, and this seems to represent how unclear the situation is. You're never quite sure of Jane as the leading character in the book, and this was where I began to have problems. I could certainly empathise with Jane's situation, but I felt that her reactions didn't always sit right, and I didn't like her at all. I wanted to feel sorry for her, but she was untrustworthy and unreliable. So where I was meant to feel peril for her as she faced accusations of being the kidnapper and murderer, instead I just felt as if they should lock her up and be done with it!

There aren't too many details around the child abductions and murders, so this isn't a blood-fest, but it still remains unsettling and there's an ever-present sense of a slow-looming disaster on the horizon. More disturbing than thrilling, certain characters are very creepy, and though there are some little twists and turns as you read it's mostly predictable. I didn't much like anyone depicted, unfortunately, and so that slowed my reading pace. There was a nice surfer working at the nursery, seemingly a love interest for Jane, though Jane goes off on her own tangent, in a way that makes her increasingly unlikable...I don't want to spoil the plot by saying what she does, but there was a large part of the book where I just wanted to give her a good shake and tell her to stop being such an idiot! Whilst it's described as a psychological suspense story, I felt that the suspense was too often lacking, and the psychology was just an awful lot of people I didn't much like doing things that seemed utterly bizarre!

I think that Jane's character flaws lessened the book's strengths, so although there were some aspects that I thought were good, I found myself too often annoyed with her. It's an easy enough read, and it isn't completely dreadful! It's certainly the sort of book you could easily lend half your attention to on a nice beach holiday, to while away a couple of sleepy afternoons, but for me the pace needed to be raised, and the twists and turns needed to be bigger and better, and the main character needed to be a whole lot more likeable…this is probably one to borrow, rather than to buy.

Further reading suggestion: You might want to try another of this author's books that The Bookbag found much better Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

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Buy Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante at Amazon.com.


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