EXCERPT: I go back downstairs. Daisy is in the kitchen with Amy. They both look startled to see me, as if I’ve disturbed something.
‘What’s up?’ Daisy’s posture is rigid and Amy is twisting a curl around her finger.
‘You tell her,’ Daisy says.
‘It’s Sam,’ Amy says. ‘He’s going to be arriving much later than he said.’
‘That’s okay,’ I say. ‘We already knew that, and it doesn’t really matter -‘
‘No, it isn’t okay.’ Daisy’s sharp tone takes me by surprise, makes me flinch.
‘Sorry.’ I hold up my hands. ‘Nothing to do with me.’
‘It’s not that,’ Amy says. ‘It’s the reason he’s late. He isn’t working, like he said he was.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘He’s at the police station.’
‘Oh no.’ I sit down with a bump on the hard wooden chair. Images of police cars, ambulances, a broken body flash into my mind. ‘Has he had an accident?’
‘He’s been called in to answer some questions.’ Amy looks at me as she says this, and a chill envelops my body. I know what she’s going to say. Hannah. The journalist. Blackwood Forest. My mind is on fast-forward, willing her to spit it out. ‘About what he was doing the day Hannah disappeared.’
ABOUT ‘THE BIRTHDAY WEEKEND’: Dear Louise. It’s time we all put the past behind us. We’re meeting for my birthday. I want you there. Love, Amy. X
When Louise receives an invitation to her old friend Amy’s birthday weekend in a cottage next to the woods near their old university campus, a chill runs down her spine.
Fifteen years ago, Hannah walked into those same woods and never came back. Her death destroyed her friends. They’ve not met as a group since. Until now.
As the party gets underway and old grudges are uncovered, a game of truth or dare is proposed. It’s clear one person has questions about their friend’s death – and now they want answers. And nothing will stop them.
When everyone has buried secrets, digging for the truth is going to get dangerous.
MY THOUGHTS: Better than average, but not great.
Amy, Kat, Louise and Daisy were a tight bunch at university, along with Hannah whose death was ruled a suicide. For Louise, going to university was a big adventure. For Kat, it was the chance to escape a miserable home life. Amy had a passion for knowledge. Daisy wanted to be on stage, the star of the show. All Hannah had ever wanted was to be loved. These five gravitated towards one another and formed a tight knit group until Hannah’s death. Although her death is ruled a suicide, and this suits each of them for one reason or another, none of them have ever really believed it.
The thing that I had most difficulty with was that if they were all so close, wouldn’t they have turned to each other for support after Hannah’s death? ‘They’ve never met as a group since.’ I find that more than odd. And they’ve never talked about it together? Really? That is just downright strange! Even stranger, Louise has never told her husband Theo about Hannah’s death. This is a major life event! Could you just blithely sail on through the rest of your life and never mention your friend’s name again? I couldn’t.
Then there’s a journalist who is introduced into the story and then . . . nothing. What was the point?
I guessed reasonably early on who was responsible for Hannah’s death, and I was mostly right, but there was an unexpected twist to the denouement.
I mostly enjoyed The Birthday Weekend, but it doesn’t measure up to the two other books I have read by this author.
The Birthday Weekend was originally to have been released as Our Little Secret but has undergone a prepublication title change.
THE AUTHOR: Lesley attended the Curtis Brown Creative 6 month novel writing course in 2015/6, and in 2017 The Orchid Girls (then On The Edge) was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize. (Amazon)
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Birthday Weekend by Lesley Sanderson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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