Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley

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Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A murder thriller you don't want to read if you're pregnant or post-natal… Or perhaps it's better if you do? It starts as a slow burner, but prepare to be dragged to the edge of your seat.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Quercus
ISBN: 978-1782067221

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Yvonne and Gerry are proud new parents. However, as they've only recently moved to Gerry's native Dublin, Yvonne mourns the lack of a support network. This all changes when she turns to Mammynet, a web-based online forum and chat room for new and soon-to-be mums. It works too - Yvonne quickly makes a local online friend but then the friend disappears without warning. Meanwhile Garda Sergeant Claire Boyle is investigating the murder of a young woman. There may be a connection but will Claire discover it before the killer strikes again?

Although this is Sinead Crowley's debut novel, she's no stranger to the public eye: Sinead's day job is art and media correspondent for the Irish TV station RTE. In fact the world of TV makes it into the book, but not as the main focus.

The central subject is one that will cast fear and foreboding into the hearts of any new mum as well as mild panic in the real world forum/chat rooms of Mumsnet. Indeed, this book's inherent warning may not only be restricted to parents with babies on their minds. The warning? Yes, the heart of the story is about how we share information on the internet and how easily we adults are enticed by the all-masking friendliness we warn our children about.

Although there are no 'men prohibited' signs on the cover, this is a story with which women would identify the most. Indeed the characters are just like us and, in my case, evoked memories from my pregnancy/new-born offspring era over 25 years ago now. The tiredness, the competitive parenting, hormonally induced irritability and inability to think straight – it's all here and used to heighten a plot that grows into a crescendo of menace. The trick is that Sinead manages it sympathetically as well as realistically. No blame apportioned or mocking the absent brain of a new mum, this is just how it is.

Sinead alternates chapters between Yvonne, Mammynet conversations and Claire's investigation, providing us with all-encompassing aerial vision. The Mammynet transcripts seem innocuous enough to begin with but as realisation dawns, even the most innocent chat becomes ominous. Another of Sinead's clever wheezes is that Claire herself is pregnant adding to both empathy and jeopardy levels.

Not all the mothers are as engaging as Yvonne (at one point I'm afraid I sided with the killer!) but it all has an air of plausibility. (OK, apart from the mother who stops breast feeding, cold turkey, without a sign of soreness or mastitis.) We're provided with an array of baddie options and, call me naïve, but I couldn't pick the killer until it revealed itself. (I know – 'it' may be grammatically clunky but means I don't give anything away!) In fact it's ideal escapist holiday reading. As long as you don't want to worry about that last internet discussion you had, of course.

Thank you, Quercus, for providing us with a copy for review.

Further Reading: If you'd like to be freaked out further about other areas of life in which information is gathered for apparently good reasons, we most definitely recommend the excellent A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan.

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Buy Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley at


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