Home alone, keeping an ear out for her baby daughter who is sleeping on the floor above, Kirstie Rawlings is jolted out of her doze at the sound of a cry. The baby monitor also relays the sound of someone speaking upstairs which results in Kirstie launching into action. Racing upstairs, Kirstie discovers her baby safely asleep and after a tense search, does not find anyone else in the house. The police don’t seem to believe what Kirstie has to tell them, and Kirstie’s own husband isn’t sold on her story either. The words that Kirstie clearly heard were “Let’s take the child – and go”. If it is not her baby that is in danger, could their baby monitor be picking up the words of a nearby child kidnapper?
It’s all too disappointingly easy for everyone around Kirstie to write off her growing fears as the result of a maternally over tired mind, but this does not stop Kirstie from making her own investigations. Why does her unsettling neighbour have a basement built into his house? And why is the whole street so quick to dismiss her concerns?
The fear factor of the baby monitor interference is deliciously creepy and so from the very first chapter of THE CHILD NEXT DOOR we know that we are in for a fun ride. Author Shalini Boland has the gift for the quick hook and jerk and it is employed here successfully once again in her latest domestic thriller. It is nerve wracking to read of a new mother who is dealing with the enormity of her child possibly being snatched and the necessity of doing such things as turning her house into a fortress to protect her child. Kirstie is surrounded by people but very much alone.
Crisply written with no spare prose, THE CHILD NEXT DOOR wastes no time on extraneous details and gallops through with a mother’s righteousness and sense of purpose to solve a mystery and avert an incident that everyone else in the street seems to have the blinkers on about. Like a new mother doesn’t have enough on her plate to contend with, our anxiety for Kirstie rachets up with each chapter and we are standing at an anxious precipice by novel’s end.
Oh and yikes! That ending! Don’t entirely trust your instincts on this one as there is a final kick to be enjoyed on the very last page.