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The Push by Claire McGowan

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Crime/Thriller

By Swirl and Thread

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The Push by Claire McGowan is published with Thomas & Mercer (an Amazon Pub imprint) and is described as ‘a stunning psychological thriller…a superb thriller about motherhood and murder’.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave….” is the perfect phrase to describe this wonderfully layered thriller. A death at a barbecue on a sunny afternoon in an exclusive area of London is not all as it seems. DS Alison Hegarty is the investigating officer at what appears, from initial onlookers reports, to have been an accidental death, a slip and a fall over a balcony onto a rockery below. A sudden death for the victim but was it a tragic accident or was it murder? Alison is suspicious from the beginning, with the guests all very reticent in providing full witness accounts. Back at the station, Alison’s superiors want the case wrapped up fast as a tragedy but Alison is sensing more and manages to buy a few more investigative days to see if there are any facts to support her suspicions.

The party was a gathering that grew out of an Antenatal Group at a local community centre. Six couples and the facilitator, Nina, all arrived at Monica and Ed’s house to celebrate new beginnings but the relationships across couples and between couples was strained. Monica is all about the image, about capturing perfection for the Instagram moment. Bringing these couples and their babies together in her home for a couple of hours, allowed her to show off her wealth and the curated image that she wants the world to see. Her teenage daughter also lives there but is just an extra in Monica’s life. All the other guests have their own issues with problems having expanded during the previous few months due to stresses associated with impending parenthood, but all for very different reasons.

The reader is slowly drip-fed the backstory to all who attended the baby group. So many secrets, so much denial and unhappiness, all hidden behind false veneers. A random group of strangers unwittingly become part of something bigger. Their only common thread is their desire for a baby, a desire to have something special, to be a family unit. As the victim’s life is looked at more closely, Alison slowly begins to piece together the truth.

Claire McGowan has created a very enjoyable piece of drama that would play out wonderfully on stage. There is almost an Agatha Christie style vibe to the plot. As each couple is slowly revealed to us, we get a better understanding for their initial reticence with Alison when questioned. A character driven tale, The Push is an interesting study of human behaviour with varying POVs littered throughout. The chapters are all very well plotted leading nicely to a very satisfying conclusion.

Parenting is a very strong theme throughout the book highlighting the fears and the angst of impending motherhood and its impact on personal relationships, and on the individual. While a murder investigation is central to the plot, the focus on motherhood provides an interesting angle. Being a mother of two myself, I could empathise with the overwhelming feelings experienced by these new mothers.

The Push is a very entertaining and fast-paced novel with a great mix of personalities and a wonderfully woven tale of lies, guilt, secrets and murder. A very satisfying read.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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