Welcome to a weekly post, Throwback Thursday. This weekly book review post is a way to share some old favourites, books that were published over a year ago and most importantly those books that have been languishing on the to be read pile for far too long!
You’d always recognise your own child. Wouldn’t you?
Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.
By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is her husband’s long-missing son – but Jason is equally convinced it’s not him. Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s search for the truth.
Deborah O’Connor’s debut psychological thriller, My Husband’s Son, covers fairly familiar territory, the missing person’s case of a young boy, who may still be alive. O’Connor pulls apart this case and cleverly intertwines the story of a mother who tragically lost her daughter to a murderer, who is married to the father of the missing boy in this novel. It all sounds a little confusing and sombre, but this is one mesmerising crime thriller novel.
Heidi and Jason are a couple united by a tragic history. Heidi lost her daughter six years ago when she was tragically killed by a depraved murderer. A year on from this terrible crime, Jason’s young son Barney disappears without a trace. It is unclear as to whether Barney is still alive, or he has met foul play. Heidi and Jason connect at a support network conference for parents of children like themselves, victims of crimes against children. Heidi and Jason’s lives are shaken up yet again when Heidi believes she has seen a boy that looks exactly like Jason’s son, Barney. Jason is not convinced whatsoever, he is sick to death of the false hopes and the dead-end leads he has followed since Barney went disappeared. Heidi is determined to prove this boy really is Barney to Jason and her actions have dangerous consequences. But the question looms, is Jason withholding something important pertaining to Barney’s disappearance and why won’t believe his wife’s claims?
There is plenty of tragedy throughout My Husband’s Son and O’Connor introduces us to the awful experiences that have touched couple Heidi and Jason early on in the book. The exact circumstances of Heidi’s daughter’s death is not divulged until well into the book’s proceedings and for me this aspect was the prime motivator in reading this novel. Likewise, O’Connor lets the reader know from the very beginning that Barney was a young boy when he was taken from his father and mother five years ago. The exact circumstances of that fateful day is carefully teased out carefully by O’Connor in her ensuing narrative. As there are two crimes in this novel, sadly involving two innocent children, so it also feels like you get a double narrative with My Husband’s Son.
O’Connor’s main characters are intriguing and we are never quite sure throughout the entire novel if they can be trusted. I immediately felt a pang of sorrow for Heidi, I couldn’t imagine how awful it would be to lose a child under the circumstances in which she lost her daughter. She is definitely a determined woman that’s for sure, with an inquisitive nature that gets her into trouble. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about the decisions Heidi made in the novel and her actions seemed to go way off kilter as the book progressed. She almost seemed to be completely possessed by the need to prove the young boy she sighted was in fact Barney.
Jason, the other lead character in this novel, is again a man that I felt immediate empathy for very early on in the novel. The loss of his son, the lack of firm answers and all the false hopes he has received in the years Barney has been missing seemed to hit him hard. I almost didn’t bat an eyelid when he refused to believe or investigate Heidi’s claims of seeing a boy that resembled Barney. However, as the book travelled on, I grew less and less sure of Jason and feelings of mistrust began to surround this character. When Jason’s first wife and Barney’s mother comes into the story I questioned her role in Barney’s disappearance. O’Connor certainly worked to ensure that we as the reader felt sceptic of the characters and the circumstances presented in the novel. When I reached the conclusion of the novel I was quite surprised to say the least at the final turn of events. It really seemed to get under my skin!
Overall, I felt My Husband’s Son was a very solid debut from a first time novelist. It was well paced, had an intriguing narrative, served up plenty of plot diversions and featured a cast of damaged individuals, who the reader is never sure if they can trust. I’m looking forward to seeing what Deborah O’Connor issues us with next. I’m sure it will be another thrill ride.
My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor was on 23rd November 2016 by Allen and Unwin (Bonnier). Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of My Husband’s Son, Deborah O’Connor, visit here.