The interesting thing about this book is that we know our lead character is lying from the moment we meet her. The person we know as faux-Bec is caught shoplifting and after attempting to wangle out of charges via sympathy and coquettishness, she opts for something that came to mind when noticing her similarity to a long-missing girl.
And so… she becomes Bec.
In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared.
She'd been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast-food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend. Mysteriously ominous things began to happen—blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched—though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.
Eleven years later she is replaced.
A young woman, desperate after being arrested, claims to be the decade-missing Bec.
Soon the imposter is living Bec's life. Sleeping in her bed. Hugging her mother and father. Learning her best friends' names. Playing with her twin brothers.
But Bec's welcoming family and enthusiastic friends are not quite as they seem. As the imposter dodges the detective investigating her case, she begins to delve into the life of the real Bec Winter—and soon realizes that whoever took Bec is still at large, and that she is in imminent danger.
Faux-Bec waits to be discovered. By the police involved in Bec’s disappearance, by Bec’s parents and by Bec’s brothers.
She’s surprised when she’s not, but the similarity between the pair is remarkable and faux-Bec is adept at spinning a yarn so manages to keep those around her off the scent. And of course – we remind ourselves – any family would be relieved at having their daughter return home, given they’d practically given up on her return.
The detective leading the case is suspicious but faux-Bec deftly manipulates the DNA test and lets him think she’s protecting her kidnapper with timely amnesiac episodes to deflect any questions about her whereabouts for the past decade.
Snoekstra seamlessly intersperses chapters featuring the real Bec and the days in the lead up to her disappearance in 2003 with faux-Bec’s interest in her predecessor’s fate.
Initially I found it frustrating that we knew little about faux-Bec but I realise Snoekstra purposely delays our inquisitiveness so we remain uncertain who we’re identifying with. Faux-Bec seems brutally honest in her narration, but we wonder what secrets she’s hiding given she’s so adept at doing so.
There was a turning point near the end of the book that I felt a tingle up my spine and you know something’s kinda off. There was a lot of potential at this point, but things unraveled a little for me after this. It became creepier and more suspenseful, but… also a little more far-fetched and anticlimactic. #atthesametime
This novel’s set in Australia – predominantly Canberra – but it was a little confusing for me that Snoekstra used Americanisms, such as ‘mom’ and ‘specter’. I wondered if it’s so the book would appeal to a broader audience… but given all the characters were Australian, it was a little weird for this overly-anal reader!
However, this book offers up something quite different, which is hard to do in the suspense / thriller genre and it’s great to see a debut novel from an Australian author in this field.
Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra was published by Harlequin Australia on 22 August 2016.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.