The Push by Claire McGowan

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The Push by Claire McGowan

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A well-crafted whodunnit with some modern twists, this is a super read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 431 Date: November 2020
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1542019996

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This book is truly superb. I'm saying that up front in case that's all you need to hear. No need to read any more. Off you pop to pick up or download a copy. For those of you who need a little extra, here you go.

Six mums-to-be meet at a prenatal class. It's NCT style, but not the proper NCT. This bit is important, but you have to wait a little to see why. This being London, such a class attracts a wide variety of people, from all sorts of backgrounds, but for most of the ladies the thing they have in common is it's their first baby. Probably after the first one, you don't have time for classes, or think you've got child-rearing down pat.

The months pass, the bumps get bigger, and some unlikely new friendships are forged. A few weeks after the babies arrive, one of the group decides to throw a party to welcome the babies. Along the new mums trot, partners and offspring in tow, expecting a bit of a BBQ, a few drinks, and lots of baby chat. It seems harmless enough. And then… someone dies.

It's sad when people die, of course, but that alone isn't enough to carry a whole book, not unless there's a little something extra. And there is: to DS Alison Hegarty, the investigating officer, it looks suspiciously like murder. That's not the story she's getting from the party guests, not the story they're all sticking to, but something about it feels wrong. And when things feel wrong, you have to go digging.

These are new acquaintances, remember, brought together through the timing of their pregnancies. They don't have years of friendship to fall back on, don't feel allegiances they need to defend, and this helps Alison a great deal in her investigation. The odd thing, though, is that everyone seems to be lying about different things. Not everyone can be the murderer (if, indeed, it does end up being a murder) but so many of them have things to hide that it's like an old, knotty ball of yarn. It's going to take some painstaking unravelling to get things straight.

I enjoyed this story from the very beginning, and it only got better as the pages turned. Alison and Jax (one of the new mums) are the main narrators, but lots of other characters take on a chapter or two each, which sends the story off in different directions and lets you piece things together, sometimes before Alison does. These are all nice enough couples, though probably the person I'd most likely be friends with is Alison herself, but their lives are in no way straightforward. So many issues are laced through the story – think adoption, infertility, addictions, cheating spouses - without being the main focus. They are just part and parcel of the characters' lives, and the way life can be. Some are open about their issues, others keep them hidden, but it's Alison's job to tease out the undertones of each and establish whether they are material to her investigation.

The writing flows beautifully, so much so that I finished this long book in less time than I've taken on much shorter titles recently. I didn't want to put it down when I knew if I kept reading I'd find out whodunnit and, far more interestingly, why. This isn't a flowery book, so when the descriptions do appear you pay attention, alert to the fact your time isn't being wasted with gratuitous prose. I liked the matter of fact nature of the writing, that left a lot of emotion at the door. It was clever and astute and it didn't make me cry (so good for reading in public!)

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. This is not the first Claire McGowan book I've read, and I'll certainly be making an effort to dig through her full back catalogue after this one. You might also enjoy The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon.

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Buy The Push by Claire McGowan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Push by Claire McGowan at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Push by Claire McGowan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Push by Claire McGowan at


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