Jane’s daughter is a good girl. What’s she hiding?
When thirteen-year-old Savannah Hopkins doesn’t come home straight from school, as she always does, her mother Jane immediately raises the alarm.
Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward whose daughter Leigh is the same age as Savannah. Soon Natalie’s worst fears are confirmed when the teenager’s broken body is found in nearby shrubland.
Evidence points towards a local recluse, but just as the net is closing in around him, one of Savannah’s friends, Harriet, is reported missing.
As Natalie delves into the lives of both girls, she soon discovers a sinister video on their phones, daring the girls to disappear from their families for 48 hours.
But Natalie isn’t quick enough for this killer, and she is devastated to find Harriet’s body on a fly tip a day later.
Caught up in the case, she takes her eye off her own daughter and when Leigh goes missing after school she knows she must be in terrible danger. The clock is ticking for Natalie. Can she catch this killer before her little girl becomes the next victim?
Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Carol Wyer for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Carol Wyer has delivered another compulsive and unputdownable thriller. Secretive teenagers, social media and crazy dares are a deadly mix in this riveting novel.
Jane Hopkins is running late home from work. She likes to be there when thirteen-year-old Savannah arrives home from school, not like her own teenage years as a ‘latchkey kid’. When she arrives she’s surprised to find no trace of her daughter and no answer when she calls her phone. Savannah always comes straight home from school so Jane is immediately concerned. After checking with the few friends she’s made since they moved to the area and finding they haven’t seen her since school ended, Jane alerts the police.
Detective Natalie Ward is put in charge of the case but everyone’s worst fears are realised the next morning when the teenager’s body is discovered in a nearby park. As the murder investigation begin and secrets the teenager was hiding begin to come to light another young girl disappears. When the second teenager is also found dead it is confirmed they’re dealing with a parent’s worst nightmare. But this is a killer who leaves few clues and could be any one of a number of suspects. When her own teenage daughter, Leigh, goes missing the hunt becomes personal for Natalie. Can she catch the killer before it’s too late?
The Dare is the third installment in the fantastic Detective Natalie Ward series and is the best yet. If you haven’t read the other books you could read this as a stand alone as the author provides enough snippets of information for you to understand the characters, their relationships and motivations. However I’d recommend you read them simply because they are great crime fiction.
Told from multiple points of view, the book opens as a mystery man with a large snake tattoo on his torso is watching school children pass by. He talks about the snake having not been fed for a while and promises that it will soon be sated. The chilling tone of this chapter was repeated each time we met the adult killer. His conversations with his tattoo and his view of it as a separate entity, the thing that needed him to kill and feed it’s desire, made him seem more frightening and maleficent and left me with a chill down my spine. Later in the book there were some flashback chapters from his childhood where we see he was ridiculed at school and ignored at home. Feeling powerless we see what lead him to commit these awful acts and why he sees the snake as synonymous with his actions.
One of the best things for me about this book is the author wrote it so well that there was no clear suspect. There were multiple connections between the victims and possible candidates, but each time it seemed we knew who it was something would come along to make you doubt it was them. This uncertainty had me racing to the end to find out who had been terrorising the town and if Natalie’s daughter was found safe.
Ms Wyer has a talent for writing stories that get to the heart of what we as parents dread and striking horror in our hearts. As a mother to two teenagers I could relate to the stresses and trials the mothers in this story faced, how the children who once told us everything now hide things from us and we’re treading that fine line between giving them space to be independent and making sure they’re safe. Online safety is something we’re learning to navigate with this generation of teenagers and there were things this book made me consider that I’d never thought of before (I’ll not say more as I don’t want to give away spoilers).
I was on the edge of my seat as I devoured this book in almost one sitting. This is a must read for crime fiction and thriller fans. The only problem now is waiting for the next installment, one I’m personally hoping finally gives us more clues about Natalie’s elusive estranged sister.
Out April 25th.