The Birthday Party – ARC Book Review

The Birthday Party: A totally nail-biting and addictive crime thriller packed with jaw-dropping twists by [Wendy Dranfield]

Title:- The Birthday Party

Author:- Wendy Dranfield

No. of pages:- 391 pages

Publisher:- Bookouture

Date published:- will be published on January 7th 2022

Genre:- Psychological Thriller


Charlotte waves at her mother across the crowded lawn. Little red boots on, cowboy hat crooked over her blonde pigtails, she’s been looking forward to this party for weeks. Moments later, she disappears without a trace…

Kathy Hamilton drives away from her sister-in-law’s pristine-white suburban house in Maple Falls certain she’s left her daughter in safe hands. On the hottest day of the year, a birthday is the perfect excuse to gather friends, family and neighbors around the pool for a barbecue. But when she returns hours later to find her little girl has vanished, her world shatters.

Nobody laughing and drinking in the garden that day saw anything unusual.

Kathy’s eldest daughter is anxious and hardly eating. Is she sick with worry for her sister, or hiding a terrible secret?

The phone rings and rings, but why can’t Kathy get hold of the babysitter?

And is she imagining it, or when her husband rushed from work to join the search, was he wearing a different shirt to the one she saw him leave the house in that morning?

As the temperature rises, and long-buried secrets begin to surface, it’s clear that even the most perfect families keep devastating secrets. But in a town as small as this, is there anyone you can trust?

A totally gripping and utterly addictive page-turner that will have you racing through and reeling at the twists. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Gone Girl and Teresa Driscoll, it will keep you up reading all night long!

Content Warning:- Rape, child abduction and murder

On a hot sunny day, Kathy Hamilton drops her daughter Charlotte known as “Charlie” at a birthday party hosted by her brother-in-law Scott and his wife Cindy. She leaves the party, not knowing that in a few hours, Charlie will disappear from the party without a trace. While many people are drunk and have no recollection of what really happened the hours before Charlie disappeared, the case was investigated by Kathy’s childhood lover, Chase. And as the investigations are ongoing, many of the dark secrets that have been buried start emerging…

This is the first time I have read a stand alone novel from this author. Wendy Dranfield had impressed me with Detective Madison Harper series and so I was determined to read all the novels written by this author. I have to say, from start to finish, this book had me hooked. The past timeline actually gave a glimpse of Kathy’s relationship with Chase which later on provided useful in the story, thus connecting the characters altogether. Along with the dark secret surfacing, there are so much unexpected twists and turns that you literally had no idea what is going to happen in the book! You think you got the suspect but towards the end, you realize that the author had fooled you and that the suspect is completely someone you didn’t expect. Story itself talk about toxic relationships between Kathy and her mother. The ending left me so breathless that I felt like I am on a roller coaster ride with this book! I like how the author had us guessing until the end!

This book is quite a page turning thriller–fast paced twisted, you would expect these things in a good psychological thriller. The book talks about toxic relationship between Kathy and her mother, who is determined to keep her name Hamilton reputation intact and not caring about her daughter’s feelings. This also talks about rape, murder of a child, which maybe disturbing to some of the readers.

If you like a thriller that is

  • Fast paced
  • page turner
  • filled with twists and turns

I recommend this novel for you! Guranteed you will stay up all night reading this book, wanting to know what is going to happen in the end!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the ARC. The review is based on my honest opinion only.

Wendy is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who lives with her husband and 3 rescue cats.

Her first novel (The Girl Who Died, 2015) was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition. Since then she has written two crime series – the latest follows Detective Madison Harper as she tries to reclaim her life after spending six years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit. Books 4 and 5 in this series will be published in 2022.

Her latest novel – a gripping standalone crime thriller called The Birthday Party – is set in small-town USA and it is available to pre-order now on amazon. Publication date: January 7th 2022.

Wendy is very active on social media, with updates about her books, her characters and her cats! 

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