The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson

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The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A slow-burn story with brilliant characters built layer by layer and a plot which comes ingeniously together. A great read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: June 2015
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1782063094

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Phoebe Piper went missing on a family holiday in 2006 when she was just three years old and no trace of her has ever been found. There was a lot of publicity at the time and there still is some - particularly those computer-generated pictures which show what Phoebe would probably look now. The 'now' is seven years on and ten-year-old Molly Jackson is convinced that she is Phoebe Piper: she seems to have the proof. Life isn't going well for her at the moment: she's recently been uprooted from the life - and friends - she knew in London and is living in a Norfolk village, in the home of her great uncle Dan. Only, she's just found Dan dead in bed.

There are other complications. Molly's mother (well, Molly is convinced that she isn't her mother - she's felt that she's been the wrong girl for most of her life) was adopted at birth, but her birth mother, Dan's sister has come back into Suzanne's life. It wasn't a case of a deliberate attempt on Janice's part to find her daughter, but rather that she found Suzanne in residence when she came to Dan's home on hearing that he'd died. Janice wants to help, Suzanne's not keen and Molly - well, Molly just want to get to her proper mother now that she's heard that the Pipers are divorcing. Surely if Molly/Phoebe was with them it would all come right again?

It's a complex plot but not one which you'll struggle to come to terms with. Laura Wilson has a real talent for building up her characters layer by layer so that you get to know them much as you would get to know real people. This is particularly true with Janice as we slowly discover her background, the reason why she had to have her baby adopted and her relationship with an ex-member of a well-known rock group, one of whose members (and one of Janice's lovers) lives locally. The more that Janice finds out what is going on in the village which used to be her home, the more she wonders if Dan's death was natural. Then Molly disappears.

It's difficult to avoid thinking about Madeleine McCann as you read and whilst that case isn't mentioned explicitly there's a nod to the inspiration behind the story and other real cases are named. I did wonder if this might seem as though it was trading on other people's misery, but it's handled sensitively, particularly with regard to the stresses on a family when a child goes missing.

You can always rely on Laura Wilson for a good and satisfying read: she understands people, knows what makes them tick and brings them off the page as believable characters and lets us peep into the lives of dysfunctional families. I've learned not to expect a pacy plot from Laura Wilson, but she knows how to build suspense and tie together disparate story lines into a compelling story. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more crime set in Norfolk we can recommend The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett, Death Watch by Jim Kelly and Up Close by Henriette Gyland.

Buy The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson at

Buy The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson at


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