The Birthday by Carol Wyer (Natalie Ward #1)

Synopsis: One hot summer’s afternoon, five-year-old Ava Sawyer went to a party. She never came home… 

Two years later, Ava’s body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party …

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward. A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that still keeps her awake at night…

Natalie soon discovers that Ava’s mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she’s sure Ava’s father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she’s not telling Natalie …

Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn’t come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken?

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: I absolutely love the Robin Carter books by Carol Wyer and was looking forward to reading a new character so was pleased when I finally got around to reading the first in this series. I certainly enjoyed it, but (yes there is a but) I found it a little bit hard work at times. Natalie the lead character is likeable enough, but I didn’t take to her immediately. She is a mother of two teenagers and has a husband who frankly I loathed from the second I read about him. Her home life doesn’t feature in a huge way but I just wasn’t overly bothered by them in any way which I always take as a negative.

The personal life aside, she has a team and together they are investigating the murder of a young child. It seems linked to the missing persons case of Ava Sawyer who went missing two years prior at a birthday party. The case itself seemed reasonably complex however I just didn’t get the pull I do with other books. Her colleagues were again okay, just okay and nobody stood out for me.

Sometimes I feel like this when starting a new series so maybe the next book will draw me in a little but I felt like there were too many things that made this feel a bit too middle ground for my liking. Also when the reveal regarding the killer was made I didn’t feel like it had any real impact. Did I know who the killer was? No, but I also didn’t feel like there were any hooks relating to this person. Overall I just felt that it could have been a lot better. I will continue to read Carol Wyer as she is a great author and hopefully book 2 will draw me in a little bit more.

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