Book Review: "Playing Nice" by J.P Delaney
5/5 - a psychodrama like no other...
I stayed up a long time to read this book and honestly, I was glad I did. When it comes to thrillers, if you keep choosing similar ones, eventually you will get bored of them. But, with thrillers like these, you will not be able to find a way that they are similar to another thriller you have read before. It is a brilliant addition to the modern world of crime, mystery and thriller. The structure is again one of those very tense narratives that goes back and forth between people and, in the midst of these back and forth narratives, we get court documents. We get phone conversations, interview transcripts, we get vital pieces of the court's exhibition of evidence that eventually we have to consider ideas that, at first, would not have been entirely present.
This book is about a couple called Maddie and Pete. They have a two-year-old child called Theo. One day, whilst Pete is at home looking after Theo, a man called Miles arrives to his home and tells him that he has spent a long time searching this down: their children were switched at birth and Theo belongs to Miles and Lucy, and Miles' child, David, belongs to Pete and Maddie. Realising that this is true, Pete and Maddie try to involve Miles and Lucy in the life of Theo as much as possible and vice versa. But, when rejecting a holiday to Cornwall at Easter, things take a sinister turn as court days approach and conclusions are drawn. Things are not always what they seem and there are five possibilities as to what happened that fateful day when Theo and David were switched at birth. The book concentrates on multiple scenarios, strange deaths, weird and uncomfortable situations and finally, the argument of nature vs. nurture. Is a child that is not yours ever really yours even if you raised them?
This book really hit me where it hurt - it was very uncomfortable as I feel a lot for children who are put in difficult situations that they do not understand. You just want to get in there, pull them out and hug them, telling them everything will be okay and they will be happy from now on. But in a book, you can't do that. It is horrid what these children are put through and it makes you wonder about the characters themselves and their motivations - and I mean all of them.
The most uncomfortable part of the book was when Lucy and Miles turn to up Maddie and Pete's house at Easter after Maddie stated that they would not be joining Miles and Lucy in Cornwall. Miles starts to make a bit of a scene, asking where Maddie's brother from Australia is - since this is the excuse she used for not going to Cornwall. Maddie states clearly that it was a lie and her brother was never coming over. Instead, Maddie invited friends as her guests that Easter and her guests have concluded that they do not like Miles at all. Miles has this weird thing about the calm in which he talks which makes everything a bit chilly. It scares you. But the way in which Pete is taken into the station afterwards will scare you too. It's an argument you are going to have to face up to - who is more in the wrong? Who's fault is this? What happens now?
In conclusion, this book is filled with ulterior motives, strange happenings, weird conclusions and a hypothesis that, at first, makes no sense. As you continue through the book, things start to unfold but, I would not be guessing an ending too soon because if you do - you will probably be wrong. There really was a reason that Maddie felt nothing for her child when she brought him home.