By 3.02pm, one of them will be dead’
– The Push
[ About the Book ]
The party should have been perfect: six couples from the same baby group, six newborns, a luxurious house. But not everything has gone to plan, and while some are here to celebrate, others have sorrows to drown. When someone falls from the balcony of the house, the secrets and conflicts within the group begin to spill out …
DS Alison Hegarty, herself struggling with infertility, is called in to investigate. She’s convinced the fall was not an accident, and finds the new parents have a lot to hide. Wealthy Ed and Monica show off their newborn while their teenage daughter is kept under virtual house arrest. Hazel and Cathy conceived their longed-for baby via an anonymous sperm donor—or so Hazel thinks. Anita and Jeremy planned to adopt from America, but there’s no sign of the child. Kelly, whose violent boyfriend disrupted previous group sessions, came to the party even though she lost her baby. And then there’s Jax, who’s been experiencing strange incidents for months—almost like someone’s out to get her. Is it just a difficult pregnancy? Or could it be payback for something she did in the past?
It’s a nightmare of a case, and as events get even darker it begins to look impossible. Only one thing is clear: they all have something to hide. And for one of them, it’s murder.
[ My Review ]
The Push by Claire McGowan was just published with Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Pub imprint) on November 12th. and is described as ‘a stunning psychological thriller…a superb thriller about motherhood and murder‘
“Oh what a tangled web we weave….” is the perfect phrase to describe this wonderfully layered thriller. A death at a barbecue on a sunny afternoon in an exclusive area of London is not all as it seems. DS Alison Hegarty is the investigating officer at what appears, from initial onlookers reports, to have been an accidental death, a slip and a fall over a balcony onto a rockery below. A sudden death for the victim but was it a tragic accident or was it murder? Alison is suspicious from the beginning, with the guests all very reticent in providing full witness accounts. Back at the station, Alison’s superiors want the case wrapped up fast as a tragedy but Alison is sensing more and manages to buy a few more investigative days to see if there are any facts to support her suspicions.
The party was a gathering that grew out of an Antenatal Group at a local community centre. Six couples and the facilitator, Nina, all arrived to Monica and Ed’s house to celebrate new beginnings but the relationships across couples and between couples was strained. Monica is all about the image, about capturing perfection for the Instagram moment. Bringing these couples and their babies together in her home for a couple of hours, allowed her to show off her wealth and the curated image that she wants the world to see. Her teenage daughter also lives there but is just an extra in Monica’s life. All the other guests have their own issues with problems having expanded during the previous few months due to stresses associated with impending parenthood, but all for very different reasons.
The reader is slowly drip-fed the back story to all who attended the baby group. So many secrets, so much denial and unhappiness, all hidden behind false veneers. A random group of strangers unwittingly become part of something bigger. Their only common thread is their desire for a baby, a desire to have something special, to be a family unit. As the victim’s life is looked at more closely, Alison slowly begins to piece together the truth.
Claire McGowan has created a very enjoyable piece of drama that would play out wonderfully on stage. There is almost an Agatha Christie style vibe to the plot. As each couple is slowly revealed to us, we get a better understanding for their initial reticence with Alison when questioned. A character driven tale, The Push is an interesting study of human behaviour with varying POVs (Points of View) littered throughout. The chapters are all very well plotted leading nicely to a very satisfying conclusion.
Parenting is a very strong theme throughout the book highlighting the fears and the angst of impending motherhood and its impact on personal relationships, and on the individual. While a murder investigation is central to the plot, the focus on motherhood provides an interesting angle. Being a mother of two myself, I could empathise with the overwhelming feelings experienced by these new mothers.
The Push is a very entertaining and fast-paced novel with a great mix of personalities and a wonderfully woven tale of lies, guilt, secrets and murder. A very satisfying read.
Who am I? by Claire McGowan
(Courtesy of Claire McGowan’s Website
“I’m a writer and lecturer but mostly a writer -since the day I first figured out that the words in Dick and Jane said ‘Look, Dick! Look, Jane!’ (a vitally important text), books and words have been my life. I love to read them, write them, and help other people write some too. I write crime fiction as Claire McGowan and contemporary women’s fiction as Eva Woods.
I was born in Northern Ireland in 1981, and now live in London, where I spend a lot of time dodging urban foxes and tutting at people who are too slow on escalators. I like to think of myself as being a cross between Jessica Fletcher (only slightly younger), Carrie Bradshaw (only with fewer shoes), and Sylvia Plath (only more….alive).”
Twitter ~ @inkstainsclaire