“It’s every mother’s nightmare…” says the cover, and it’s certainly a terrifying scenario. New mum Alice pops out alone for the first time since her daughter’s birth, but when she returns she is convinced the baby her husband David is looking after is a different child. Hysterical, no one believes her, but policeman Simon isn’t so sure that she’s lying…. Is Alice suffering from post-natal depression, or has someone switched babies? And if so, why?
This story really reeled me in. It’s a crazy (and very unsettling) premise but with its cast of oddly unlikeable characters it’s hard to determine who is actually telling the truth, and even harder to work out which direction the story will take, which kept me gripped throughout. Alice is a frustrating narrator – you’re instinctively sympathetic to her plight at the same time you have doubts about her sanity, and frustration with her passivity in the face of her mother-in-law’s bullying. Simon, her potential hero, is a right oddity to say the least. And Alice’s husband David is just vile. His treatment of Alice made my flesh crawl. But it’s his mother Vivienne who is truly a monster, and she is mystery at the heart of the story. Is she trying to keep everything from falling apart along with Alice’s sanity, or is she manipulating the whole situation for her own ends? Just what on earth is going on in the heart of this family? And who – and where – is baby Florence?
Little Face is a clever psychological thriller – the twists and turns are well executed and I didn’t see it coming, which is testament to Hannah’s confident storytelling. It’s (hopefully) not a likely situation to happen, but it’s a convincingly intense read with a satisfying resolution which I can imagine would make an excellent TV drama. Rating: ***
Hodder, 2006, ISBN 9780340840320