Daughter
PublisherPenguin
Date Published28 August 2014
 
 
ISBN-101405915293
ISBN-13978-1405915298
Formatpaperback
Pages400
Price£ 8.04

Daughter

by Jane Shemilt

GP Jenny Meredith appears to have the perfect life. But everything unravels around her when her teenage daughter goes missing.


Review

Jenny Meredith appears to have it all – a GP job she enjoys, a husband who’s a successful surgeon, three bright kids, a nice house and a well-organised Polish cleaner to help her keep it in shape. This is, of course, a guarantee that everything will rapidly go pear-shaped.

There seems to have been an avalanche of family secret psychological thrillers of late. Daughter is definitely at the top end of the submissions, although it appears a little too much of a writing exercise and never really cuts loose.

The book’s main problem is the flip-flopping in time between past and present – these are very short sections, so it feels like Shemilt never has a good run at building up tension. Despite this, I kept reading, so she’s doing something right!

Daughter chronicles a family falling apart after daughter Naomi goes missing. Once Jenny starts asking questions, it’s like pulling at a loose thread on a hem – everything unravels with frightening speed.

Shemilt – herself a GP – doles out information sparingly but you never feel she’s keeping material back unfairly. Most of the revelations won’t be much of a surprise to regular genre readers, but Jenny’s personal and professional doubts fit the story satisfactorily as she finds out as much about husband Ted and their twin sons as she does their missing daughter.

The book is set in Bristol and Dorset, and Shemilt imbues the book with a strong sense of place. She also has a deft hand with characterisation, particularly in the minor roles. Jenny’s patients and the people she meets in Dorset all appear as more than walk-on parts.

The ending is one that may well polarise opinions. The thread is followed through logically, but the wrap-up is handled very fast. Ambiguity I can cope with, but this is an ending that seems to leave too many questions unanswered.

Reviewed 01 November 2014 by Sharon Wheeler