Today, I have the pleasure of sharing my review of Playdate by Alex Dahl as part of the Blog Tour with Midas PR – thank you so much for my space on the tour and also for my gifted copy of this brilliant book.
The blurb …
Have you seen Lucia Blix?
Lucia went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, her mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and shared a glass of wine with Josie’s mother. Then she kissed her little girl goodnight and drove home.
That was the last time she saw her daughter
The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.
In Playdate, Alex Dahl puts a microscope on a seemingly average, seemingly happy family plunged into a life-altering situation.
Who has taken their daughter, and why?
My review …
This story is every parent’s worst nightmare – and I loved it!
Set in Norway, the story starts straightaway with Elisa Blix rushing to pick up her children from school. When she collects Lucia the little girl repeatedly asks for a playdate with her new friend Josie, putting Elisa on the spot, as kids tend to do. Elisa doesn’t know the mother and is apprehensive, but when she meets Line and sees that she is beautiful, smart and well spoken, with the girls giggling and playing nearby, she makes a superficial judgement and decides that it can’t do any harm. Straight away my maternal alarm bells are ringing. I’ve been in this position myself, even when I know the mum, of not wanting to let my children go in someone else’s car, or to their house and especially to a sleepover, but also knowing that you have to let them nurture friendships and encourage independence and it really is a horrible feeling.
The playdate does later turn into a sleepover and Elisa arranges to drop Lucia’s night-clothes and minky mouse to Line and Josie’s house. Elisa is impressed with Line’s beautiful sleek home and stays to have a glass of champagne and a chat with the charming and glamorous mum. She then gives Lucia a goodnight kiss and arranges with Lina that Lucia’s dad, Fredrik, will collect her the following morning.
The next morning Elisa leaves early for work as a flight attendant and it is not until 6.30pm that evening, when she arrives back at the airport to a flurry of missed calls and texts, that she realises something is dreadfully wrong. Line hasn’t dropped Lucia home and Fredrik is unable to reach her by phone. They race to Line’s home and find it empty, with no trace of the family. Lucia has been abducted.
I felt that I was thrown headfirst into this Scandi-thriller as Lucia is abducted and the police investigation starts within the first twenty-five pages. As the investigation gets underway Elisa and Fredrik face an agonising wait for news and the story unfolds via alternating chapters from the different characters, which is a format I always enjoy. The characterisation here is remarkable, they are all complex and intriguing, and reading from the first person perspectives of Elisa and Lucia gives a chilling and heartbreaking insight into their thoughts and emotions.
The author’s writing style is exceptional with such attention to detail. It is beautifully atmospheric in the descriptions of the settings between Norway and France, giving a real feel for the different landscapes, towns and cultures. Moreover it is so incredibly evocative and emotive that I could physically feel the fear and pain of the characters. I was completely invested in this story from the first chapter, willing Lucia to be found safe and well, and constantly putting myself in Elisa’s place wondering how I would feel in this situation, and what would I have done?
This is a clever, believable and tragic story with so many twists that it kept me guessing right up until the end and it will resonate with everyone, not just parents, as comparisons will be drawn with recent real life abduction cases. It’s one of my favourite reads of 2020 and I’m adding all of Alex Dahl’s books to my ever growing TBR pile!
About the author …
Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian. Born in Oslo and raised in both Norway and several other European countries she grew up in a multi-cultured family surrounded by artists and creative influences. She studied Russian and German linguistics with international studies, then went on to complete an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and an MSc in business management at Bath University. A committed Francophile, Alex loves to travel, and has so far lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Norway, Switzerland, Bath and London. Alex is the author of two other thrillers: The Heartkeeper and The Boy at the Door, which was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger.
Follow Alex on Twitter @alexdahlauthor, Instagram @authoralex and Facebook alexdahlauthor
For all publicity enquiries please contact Sophie Ransom on firstname.lastname@example.org
Playdate was published on 2nd October 2020 by Head of Zeus Ltd
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Thanks for reading!