‘In Safe Hands’ by J. P. Carter ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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How far would you go to save the ones you love? The first book in a stunning new crime series featuring DCI Anna Tate.

When nine children are snatched from a nursery school in South London, their distressed parents have no idea if they’ll ever see them again. The community and surrounding area in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

But DCI Anna Tate knows that nothing is impossible, and she also knows that time is quickly running out. It’s unclear if the kidnappers are desperate for money or revenge, but the ransom is going up by £1million daily. And they know one little boy in particular is fighting for his life.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DCI Anna Tate has ever worked on – not only because nine children are being held hostage, but because she’s pretty sure someone  close to them is lying….

Thank you to Avon Books UK, NetGalley and J. P. Carter for the chance to read and review this book.

“Minutes later, the nightmare began.”

The above sentence ends the prologue and sets the ominous tone for this edge-of-your-seat thriller. I devoured this book and was hanging on every word as I desperately waited to discover the fate of the nine kidnapped children.

It’s a normal day at Peabody Nursery, though there is less the usual amount of children in attendance due to the summer holidays. But the normalcy is shattered when three men with guns lock the staff members in a cupboard, one of whom has a serious head injury after being attacked for trying to protect the children.

DCI Anna Tate and her team race to the scene after one of the staff members alerts the police to the crime. By the time they arrive there is no trace of the men or the children. The nine children at Peabody Nursery have been abducted. When Anna starts talking to the children’s parents it is revealed that one of the children, three-year-old Liam, has Cystic Fibrosis and his health is seriously at risk without his daily medication. With no real clues and no communication from the kidnappers, the police have a difficult and urgent task ahead of them.

As the investigation continues the kidnappers finally get in touch, first posting a picture of the frightened children online, and then follow it with a harrowing video that includes a £6 million ransom demand with threats to the children’s lives if it isn’t paid.  With pressure coming from the families and her bosses, Anna is determined to find out who took the children and bring them home safely. But with few clues and her gut telling her not all the staff and parents are being truthful will she succeed?

I thought the secondary storyline about Anna’s daughter being abducted a decade ago and her continuing search for her was a good one as it connected her to the parents of the children and made her even more determined to find the children. It also gave her a backstory that made you sympathetic towards her and I for one was cheering her on to not only succeed in finding the nursery children, but hopefully finding something to lead her to her own child. These dual abduction storylines make the book doubly heart-wrenching and reminded you the outcome isn’t always a happy one in these circumstances.

This was the first book I have read by this author but it won’t be the last. In fact I was very happy that this is the first of a new crime series. I’m excited about book two and thought Anna was a fantastic character so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her. The book was full of suspense from the start and it didn’t waver at any point. I had a few suspicions about who might be involved and about half way through I was certain I knew who was. I was proven right but it didn’t make the story feel predictable and my heart was pounding with apprehension until the last page. A fantastic book for anyone who loves thrillers.

Out January 24th.

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