Familiar Strangers – Jackie Walsh | @JackieWalsh_ie @HeraBooks @BOTBSPublicity

‘I took you, Becca. You’re not my daughter.’

Since Becca Wall’s mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, every day Becca loses a little more of the loving, caring mother who would do anything for her only daughter. But when one day Nancy Wall confesses that Becca is not her child, Becca’s world falls apart.

Becca tells herself that the words are just a cruel symptom of Nancy’s illness; after all, she has her birth certificate, and pictures of herself as a newborn along with her Mom, Dad and older brother, Danny. Becca tries to forget, to get on with her life – until the day the police question her about the whereabouts of a missing woman, Katie Collins.

Katie has disappeared without a trace, telling her husband that she is leaving to find Rebecca Wall. But Becca doesn’t know Katie, so it’s a case of mistaken identity – isn’t it? But as Becca discovers why Katie was desperate to find her, the lies that Becca has always believed come crashing down. Soon, it’s clear that someone knows the truth – and that they’ll stop at nothing to keep their secrets…

An addictive, fast-paced psychological thriller with a shocking twist that will leave you gasping. Fans of The Girl on the TrainThe Wife Between Us and T.M Logan will be gripped until the very last page.

Familiar Strangers is published today, 22nd May 2019 by Hera Books. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book for this review via NetGalley.

One day, Becca visits her mother in the care home that she has been in since her early-onset Alzheimer’s deteriorated to the point where she needed full time professional care. During this visit, Nancy has a seemingly lucid moment where she declares that Becca isn’t her daughter, that she took her. This news is like a bolt from the blue for Becca, who has never suspected that her roots lie anywhere else than her family. As quick as the moment comes, Nancy disappears back into herself and cannot clarify the bombshell that she has landed. Becca is left confused by the whole situation and wonders rather this is nothing more than confusion from her mum, words that she didn’t mean – but there’s a part of her that is also questioning everything she knows.

To add to the difficulties that Becca is having with her mother’s health and her father’s subsequent withdrawal from enjoying anything in life – Becca receives a phone call from the police investigating the disappearance of a woman who was apparently off to find ‘Rebecca Wall’. A woman as to whom Becca has no recollection of every knowing or ever meeting. The police seem hell bent on proving that Becca is involved but unwilling to share any details with her.

Familiar Strangers is such a brilliant read, engaging right from the start with a brilliant, and at times completely annoying, protagonist. Becca is at times frustrating as she doesn’t help herself in her quest to find out the reason that Katie Collins went missing looking for her. What is clear is that there are lots of secrets but as to whether they are anything to do with Katie is far from clear.

Jackie Walsh’s writing makes you question everything and everyone – similarly to Becca, you are made to feel that everyone is a suspect! I got so drawn into the narrative and also wanted to know why Katie was searching for Becca and what happened to her that I pretty much read this book in one day – I just needed to keep reading, wanting to know more. I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to read this in a day (thanks to my husband’s cycling sportive!) as I definitely would not wanted to have put it down!

This is brimming with suspense and red herrings that takes its reader on the journey alongside Becca as the secrets unravel and the truth comes out. A fantastic read which I highly recommend – but make sure you have a clear diary to maximise your reading time!

Jackie Walsh lives in Dublin with her husband Paul and dog Layla. After years spent building her own business, she decided to take time out and pursue her interest in writing. With a lot to learn, she spent years attending classes and writing groups, going to festivals and launches, writing and rewriting, until eventually sending her words out into the world.  Now she is thrilled to have landed a publisher. Especially Hera Books, a new company headed by two women who have years of experience and love a good story. Jackie is a member of the Irish Writers Centre, The Irish Crime writers group and proof that perseverance can work.

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