★★★ 2.5 stars (rounded up)
I have been a Kerry Wilkinson fan since "The Girl Who Came Back" (which I inevitably loved), so naturally I was excited to take part in the #BooksOnTour #BlogTour for his latest thriller THE CHILD ACROSS THE STREET. Kerry is fantastic writer with a great sense of humour peppering the odd witty quip throughout his books. He never fails to engage me with his ability to draw me (the reader) into each story that I often don't want to leave.
Following the death of her father, Abi Coyle has returned to her childhood home of Elwood where she left some 20 years before. She has inherited the house she grew up in but unable to disassociate it from a time she would rather forget, she decides to put it on the market.
On her arrival she witnesses an accident where 8 year old Ethan Ashworth (though there was a misprint in the book early on when he was referred to as Ethan Coyle) is hit by a car and thrown into a ditch by the road. I don't know if it is Abi's memories of the place or the fact she may have had too much vodka on her journey, but she appears incredibly vague to all she had witnessed. She didn't even notice anything had happened until she saw the bike wheel protruding from the ground.
Then there is the distressed cries of a woman who turns out to be Ethan's mother from across the road who turns out to be one of Abi's best friends, Jo Ashworth, from school. The two reconnect through the tragedy though I'm not sure why. Abi just seemed to drift along on Jo's various and demanding whims. The woman didn't seem to think of others and despite her son being in hospital she appeared to be enjoying the spotlight just a little too much.
Following the accident, Abi gets the sense that she is being watched and begins to feel uneasy. She hears noises in the night and upon investigating, she sees a figure run off in the dark. She starts to wonder if her past has come back to haunt her, though I am not really sure what was so awful about her past that she would feel under threat. The only real threat she seemed to have had is now dead and awaiting burial but even that was a little ambiguous. Whatever the case, Abi solved it all by sipping vodka from the water bottle she carried around...or she just got blotto.
As much as I love Kerry's thrillers, THE CHILD ACROSS THE STREET just didn't do it for me. I don't know what it is but I failed to connect with any of the characters and found most of them unlikable. I disliked Abi almost instantly and, despite her being well-written in relation to the story, I just couldn't connect to her or feel her pain. She had no drive, no real purpose even. Jo was just demanding and annoying. Holly was somewhat uppity which was reflected in her move to an seemingly more upper scale part of the same town in which they all grew up. Even the teenage children were difficult to connect with. They all just seemed to be names on paper, not real characters.
I did like how the town itself became its own character with bits of messy relationships woven throughout and within each character you meet. But that's as far as it went. All the other bits and pieces seemed a bit pointless. I kept waiting for something big to take place...but it never did.
I'm not sure what THE CHILD ACROSS THE STREET was supposed to be about. Is it a domestic thriller? Is it a mystery? Is it a tale of suspense? Is it a story of grief? It seems like it was supposed to be a little of all these things woven together but instead it just unravelled like a ball of string. The premise seemed to promise something different to what was actually delivered.
This wasn't an easy review to write...simply because I love Kerry Wilkinson's thrillers and I appreciate the many hours that must go into each and every book. I wanted to like it but I just couldn't. And to write a review on a book I didn't really enjoy by one of my favourite authors is no easy feat. I can see from others that there are mixed feelings about this book. Some of Kerry's most loyal fans are either united or divided in opinion. And it's quite possible that THE CHILD ACROSS THE STREET will go on to be another raging success.
However in my opinion, I felt it wasn't his best BUT it certainly doesn't put me off the author. He is one of my favourites and I eagerly await each new release.
I would like to thank #KerryWilkinson, #NetGalley and #Bookouture for an ARC of #TheChildAcrossTheStreet in exchange for an honest review.
- Paperback: 282 pages
- Publisher: Bookouture (23 July 2020)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1838887490
- ISBN-13: 978-1838887490
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 286 g
- Customer Reviews: 1 customer rating