2016 Reviews · Australian · crime · mystery · suspense · thriller

Book Review: Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

only-daughter

Book blurb:

Home can be the most dangerous place of all…

In this chilling psychological thriller, one woman’s dark past becomes another’s deadly future.

In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared.

She’d been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend. Mysteriously ominous things began to happen — blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched — though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.

Eleven years later she is replaced.

A young woman, desperate after being arrested, claims to be the decade-missing Bec.
Soon the imposter is living Bec’s life. Sleeping in her bed. Hugging her mother and father. Learning her best friends’ names. Playing with her twin brothers.

But Bec’s welcoming family and enthusiastic friends are not quite as they seem. As the imposter dodges the detective investigating her case, she begins to delve into the life of the real Bec Winter — and soon realizes that whoever took Bec is still at large, and that she is in imminent danger.

4-stars

It is always great to discover a new Australian writer. Anna Snoekstra is a debut author who thrills her readers with her domestic noir offering, Only Daughter. Tackling the ever popular psychological thriller fiction genre, Snoekstra gives her readers something a little different. Only Daughter looks at a fairly standard missing person’s case and really turns it on its head. What arises is a chilling tale of an imposter who infiltrates all aspects of a missing person’s life. By posing as a missing victim, this imposter gets much more than she bargained for as the story unfurls.

The action in Only Daughter begins from the very opening page, Anna Snoekstra immediately throws the reader into the mess of the imposter’s life in a 2014 based storyline. An unnamed young woman is about to be arrested for shoplifting but in a split second, she makes a decision that will ultimately set off a chain reaction of events. Instead of revealing her true identity, the young woman decides to become Rebecca Winter, a teenage girl who disappeared some eleven years earlier. Rebecca Winter’s case has gone cold, but the imposter believes it holds a lifeline for her. The imposter believes her passing resemblance to the missing Rebecca Winter will bide her time to make her next move. When the fake Rebecca is reunited with the Winter family, she initially finds them welcoming but soon feels something is not right with the family. Convinced that the Winter family have something to hide in relation to their daughter’s disappearance, fake Rebecca must also fend off the questions of a determined detective. The truth that eventually ensues is shocking and points to the real Rebecca Winter’s killer still remaining on the loose. The replacement Rebecca’s life is thrown into further danger, as the key to the real Rebecca Winter’s fate emerges.

What I loved about Only Daughter was that although it does fit neatly into the ever popular domestic thriller genre, it has its own distinctive narrative. Anna Snoekstra is clever in her approach to structuring her first novel. The well plotted narrative employs the device of two alternating time frames. The reader gets to follow a 2014 story thread involving the fake Rebecca Winter, as well as a past storyline that traces the circumstances that lead to the real Rebecca Winter’s disappearance. The use of two different characters embodying the same identity may seem complex, but it works well in Only Daughter. The main crux of the story, an imposter taking over a missing person’s identity, is an intriguing scenario and makes good reading fodder. Snoekstra definitely takes her reader on a twisted tale, adding a good serve of spine tingling moments to the novel. Only Daughter really tested my mind, I found myself conjuring up many different scenarios. I was tried and tested many times in Only Daughter, as I attempted to piece together what happened to 16 year old Rebecca Winter and the current day fake Rebecca Winter. I have to admit none of my scenarios matched the final outcome of the story. This is testament to a skilful psychological thriller, so kudos to Anna Snoekstra

Only Daughter is a dramatic thriller that will press you to read it at a relentless pace, until you have reached the bitter end. It is a tightly bound, dramatic and exciting novel. Anna Snoekstra proves she is a writer to watch in the field of domestic thrillers.

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra was published in 2016 by Harlequin Books Australia.

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