Book Review – Stranger Child

Title: Stranger Child

Author: Rachel Abbott

Format: ARC Trade

Year Published: 2015

Stranger Child ended up in my hands after another reviewer commented that she hadn’t realized that it was an actual police detective novel. I enjoy reading those, so I stole it agreed to take it from her. I then sat on it for several weeks before sitting down and reading it over the course of a long weekend shift at work.

Stranger Child is the fourth in a series about DCI Tom Douglas, which I did not realize until after I’d started to write this review (while there is a booklist at the beginning, there is no indication that all of the books are in a series, and the cover also does not state this anywhere). The book holds on its own, but I think I might have liked more of the characters if there had been more of the backstory behind them (actually, there were several points while reading that I was going “this feels like a sequel”).

The story starts with the death of Caroline Joseph and the disappearance of her six year old daughter, Natasha. Six years later, Caroline’s husband, David, has remarried and has another child, when his daughter reappears. Why has she come back, and what dangers has she brought with her?

There’s a blurb on the back of the book that says “Rachel Abbot will keep you guess long into the night and just as soon as you’ve figure it out…think again!” Well, Suspense Magazine, I have news for you. There was not a single (not ONE) plot twist in this book that I did not see coming from about 1/3 of the way through.

DCI Tom Douglas, as a character, was fine. Nothing outstanding about him – he was a steady character, he did his work diligently, you could tell he cared for the people he was helping, but there was nothing that made him awesome (or, even, made him somebody I wanted to read any more books about).

Emma, David Joseph’s new wife, is probably the bedrock of the novel. Her reactions are believable and she is strong but she’s also vulnerable. The main issue I have with her is that there’s really no sense of how she exists outside her relationships – what did she do before marrying her husband? We know about one of her past relationships (a serious one) but what did she do, career-wise? Obviously she’s not doing it now, as she spends her time raising her son. Still, every time we were in her POV, I was more interested.

There are several plot twists in this book that are obviously meant to shock the reader, however any experienced mystery reader is going to spot them as soon as the early strings are set up. However, the author does have a fair hand with action sequences. While I do have a bit of an issue with the ending, when the action starts the story just powers on through to the end.

Since I prefer my mysteries with a bit more, well, mystery, I likely won’t seek out the others in the series, however this book would work well for somebody new to the genre, or somebody who wants action without a lot of brain-twisting. 3/5 pages

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