Her Missing Child by Kerry Watts #BookReview #BooksonTour

She lays her baby in his cot – the sound of his quiet breath filling the nursery as she leaves the room. Soon Claire will be fast asleep herself. She won’t hear the back door opening or the footsteps on the stairs.

When Claire Lucas is woken by her husband asking where their baby son is, she is dazed and confused. When she follows Darren into their child’s bedroom, she hears nothing but silence. No baby cries, no cute gurgles. The only thing left in Finlay’s cot is his beloved teddy bear. Finlay has gone.

Detective Jessie Blake rushes to the family’s modern home in the rugged Scottish Highlands. She notices that Darren avoids eye contact, and Claire seems disconnected – unable to account for the last few hours of her afternoon. Jessie knows there’s no normal response to losing a child, but something doesn’t feel right.

Friends rally round the young family, as a search of the narrow lanes and green hills of Moncrieffe begins in earnest. And as helpers battle the wild Scottish weather, Jessie is sure that someone in the search party must know more than they’re letting on. Someone must have seen something.

As a ghost from her own past comes back to haunt her, Jessie must put aside her own personal tragedy to save baby Finlay. Can she get the people of the small town to talk before it’s too late?

It's my pleasure to be taking part in the Books on Tour for Her Missing Child today. Many thanks to Kerry Watts and Noelle Holten from Bookouture for inviting me and for my advance copy of the book.

Something happening to your child is a universal fear for parents and perhaps particularly new ones whose children are so young and vulnerable. The moment in Her Missing Child when Darren discovers his son, Finlay is a scene which made my blood run cold and tears filled my eyes. Darren's terror is poignantly juxtaposed with his wife, Claire's apparent indifference. It's made clear very early on that Claire has been suffering from postnatal depression since the birth of Finlay which adds another layer of emotion to what is a heartbreaking mystery.
Before Finlay's disappearance is discovered there are a couple of other scenes which introduce two key characters in the book behaving strangely. It's impossible to work out if their actions are suspect or not and this is one of the features that works so well in Her Missing Child. Throughout the book, Kerry Watts continues to include moments which trigger elements of doubt about several of the characters, all of whom are flawed or damaged individuals. Claire's fragile mind means she begins to question her own involvement and meanwhile, Darren has his guilty secrets too. Their neighbours, Dianne and Colin Davidson have been hugely supportive to the young couple but did Dianne become too close to little Finlay as a result of her own tragic loss? Claire and Darren's families are naturally distraught but their pasts could also be significant, especially when a blackmail note comes to light which suggests the McCabe family who own the local garage have a reason for seeking revenge.
It's left to DI Jessie Blake and DC Dylan Logan to try to unravel exactly what happened to the little boy but it's an agonising investigation for them both. Dylan's wife is pregnant with their second child and Jessie's own personal tragedy means this is a particularly difficult case for her. Her Missing Child is the second novel to feature Jessie and Dylan but the first I have read. I feel it can easily be read as a standalone but there are a few mentions of incidences in the past and I'm not sure whether they will be known to readers of the previous book, Heartlands or part of a storyline which will gradually reveal more about Jessie's history as the series progresses. It certainly didn't affect my enjoyment of the story at all but as always with an ongoing series, I'm sure it's helpful to read all the books to gain a true understanding of a character's development.
I don't want to give too much away about the mystery itself suffice to say that I loved how my suspicions were led first in one direction and then in another as I attempted to form my own conclusions as to the truth. Kerry Watts skilfully manipulated my perceptions throughout so that by the end I think I'd been convinced of almost all the characters' guilt at one point or another. She also deals with some emotive subjects with great empathy and as much as this is a gripping investigation, it is also a really touching look at loss and guilt. The characterisation throughout is superb, both in regards to the potential suspects and the investigating officers. The introduction of PC Isla Wilde works especially well and I'm really looking forward to seeing how this perceptive, ambitious young woman develops as the series continues.
Her Missing Child is a compelling mystery with real heart; it surprised me several times and made me ache with sadness. The small town setting engenders a sense of claustrophobia where everybody knows each other and as the finger of doubt is pointed, angry repercussions are inevitable. Indeed, this leads to a second investigation which may be connected to the first and adds another layer of intrigue to the story. This may have been my first book by Kerry Watts but it definitely won't be my last - especially with such a sinister conclusion...!

Her Missing Child is published by Bookouture and can be purchased here.

Don't forget to check out the other blogs on the Her Missing Child Books on Tour, details are below.

About the Author

Kerry Watts was born and grew up in a small town in the East of Scotland where she still lives today. She is always writing and carries a little notebook and pen with her wherever she goes because at her age ideas need to be captured before they disappear. 
Kerry specialises in crime fiction because she enjoys pushing the boundaries of what it is to be human. The nature versus nurture debate.
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