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Really enjoyed this book, was a bit unsure at the start but I’m so glad I persevered. Read it in 2 days & was reading until the early hours as it was so gripping! I have read all of Lisa Stones books & can honestly say I really enjoyed every one of them. Can’t wait for more.
Ben & Emily are a young couple with a new son, Robbie, Emily at home on extended maternity leave. She’s keen to get to know their neighbours, Dr Burman and his wife Alisha but Alisha is strangely subdued, barely leaving the house, and terrified of answering the phone. When Emily goes missing a few weeks later, Ben is plunged into a panic because his wife has left a note saying she’s run off with another man (having endured this, I wish that’s what she had done). Has Emily’s curiosity about the couple next door led her straight into danger? This utterly preposterous novel parts company with any sense of realism very early on and never bothers to try and close the gap. Characterisation is basic at best - we know just what we need to move a scene along - and any sense of suspense is quickly wiped out by dialogue that is perfunctory, if not humorous, making everyone sound like they’re characters in some long-forgotten sit-com. Mostly taking place in two houses and an outhouse converted into a functional medical laboratory (yes, you read that correctly), this doesn’t have any sense of place and even when another key location is introduced, it completely ignores security procedures most of us are very familiar with. The Doctor of the title is an anaesthetist because his parents wanted him to go into the medical profession but he had neither the skill nor dedication to train and that role, apparently, is the lowest rung of the professional ladder (I can’t imagine this is going to get a recommendation from the British Anaesthesia Association). This, however, doesn’t stop him (and I’m not giving away spoilers, this is discussed openly within the first handful of chapters) from not only discovering a medical procedure that has defied doctors and scientists for centuries but also performing organ transplants in his shed. To be fair, his character did at least bring some levity to the dreary writing, since one of his eyes glows (no idea how that works) and at one point he “grins fiendishly” - I wish he’d had a moustache, he could have theatrically twirled the ends of it at that point. Please don’t get the impression that this is a harkback to the pulpy novels of the 70s - or any fun at all, really - because it takes itself far too seriously for that (see the book club questions at the end) and the less said about the “twist you won’t see coming” promised on the blurb the better - if you didn’t see it coming, you hadn’t wasted a few hours reading to get to that point. Bland, unlikely, extremely unrealistic and populated by cardboard characters who forget what they’ve told each other within pages (don’t worry, they recap one another often), it’s difficult to know how anyone could recommend this. I certainly won’t.