Top positive review
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"If you looked carefully, you would start to see the big fat lie."
on August 5, 2012
The lives of three female neighbors in a London suburb collide in Louise Millar's "The Playdate." In alternating chapters, we get to know Callie Roberts, Suzy Howard, and Debs Ribwell. Callie is a single mum struggling to get by. Her five-year old daughter, Rae, has a heart condition that requires close monitoring. Suzy Howard, an American and stay-at-home mother of three boys, is married to the handsome and successful Jez. He is frequently away on business and increasingly preoccupied with his job. Debs is a nervous middle-aged newlywed whose husband, Allan, is trying to keep her on an even keel; she is rattled by loud noises and, it seems, a bit paranoid.
Callie, who is lonely, turns to Suzy for company, and the two become inseparable. However, Callie is all too aware of the vast difference between Suzy's affluent lifestyle and her own. She longs to go back to her old job as a sound designer, so that she can earn some much-needed income. However, Suzy is as dependent on Callie as Callie is on Suzy. How will Suzy react when her chum is no longer around as much? When a series of strange events disturbs the tranquility of their quiet street, Callie and Suzy join forces against Debs who, they suspect, may pose a danger to them and their children.
Louise Millar leads us down the garden path, providing us with subtle clues that there is more here than meets the eye. When the author suddenly pulls the rug out from under us, we are a bit stunned. How could we have been so misguided? Readers will differ on whether or not Millar plays fair, but most will be frantically turning pages to find out what happens next. The novel's plot is reminiscent of Russian nesting dolls, in which more is hidden than is revealed. This is a wickedly suspenseful and fast-paced thriller that will keep mystery lovers riveted in horrified fascination. Eventually, this unusual story progresses to its unpredictable and explosive conclusion.
Four stars for an addictive read that, alas, requires a huge suspension of disbelief.