Hush Little Baby by Joanna Barnard
|Hush Little Baby by Joanna Barnard|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: A family drama of the highest sort, we have an injured baby who can't say what happened, and lots of people who don't really want to guess.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: August 2017|
|Publisher: Ebury Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Babies don't break bones for no reason. Something has to happen and, normally, someone else will be involved. So when the hospital says Oliver has a broken arm, suspicion lands on his family. Could it be his mother? But she was out all evening, drinking with her old colleagues (hence why she smells of booze when they arrive in A&E). Could it be his father? Sally left him in charge of their son, but he may have popped out for a while (something she doesn't know…yet) and if he was out then he too was away from his son at the time of the crime. Or could it be his half-sister Martha? She's a responsible teenager most of the time, and she would have no reason to harm her baby brother, but there's a nagging feeling about that night that she just can't shake.
As warranted as it can be, social services involvement can have a destructive effect on even the strongest couples, which is an accolade Sally and Richard may not even qualify for. His former wife, Zoe, still floats on the periphery, all been-there, done-that, casting a shadow over Sally's attempts at motherhood. As the social work team try to determine what happened, and whether Oliver is safe at home, secrets and lies are uncovered and an element of doubt creeps into everyone's minds. If Richard believes his wife is innocent then his own daughter must be guilty and so on – with three key suspects, by ruling out any one you automatically cast doubt on the other. This is a remarkable story with various view points and one notable absence – blame. No one, with the exception of social worker Mary, wants to point a finger and indeed for most of the story no one does, either publicly or in a way articulated to the reader. This shows the love and relationships between the accused, the fact that something bad has happened, and no one knows how or why, and yet those involved are still unable to see how their loved ones could be involved. Who knows? Maybe there's a third party lurking somewhere, ready to take the blame and put everyone else in the clear.
This is an incredibly engaging story that flits back to moments of the past, to Richard and Zoe's relationship, to Richard and Sally meeting and her becoming the other woman, to the early days after Oliver's birth. So many occasions, some seemingly insignificant at the time, that have now combined to something bigger, something harder, something more troublesome. Sally discovers that her new-mum friends suddenly are less friendly when they hear what's happened. Richard too discovers that the support network he was counting on is now holding him at a distance. And Martha is so busy with teenage angst she can barely notice her parents' relationship crumbling around her.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. You don't need to worry about Oliver – it's clear from quite early on that he is going to be fine, his injury not too severe – and so with that doubt removed you're left to focus on the very unusual whodunnit. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. It was such a quick read, mere hours of my time, but I enjoyed every second. For more lies and mistruths, Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney is a more traditional thriller that is worthy of a second glance.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hush Little Baby by Joanna Barnard at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hush Little Baby by Joanna Barnard at Amazon.com.
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