Book Review: The Birthday by Carol Wyer (eARC)

“This is the real world. Sometimes, we can’t make it right. We can only do our best.”

One hot summer’s afternoon, five-year-old Ava Sawyer went to a party. She never came home …

When five-year-old Ava Sawyer goes missing from a birthday party at a local garden centre, the police are bewildered by the lack of leads. That is until two years later, when Ava’s body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party …

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward. A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that ended very badly.

Natalie soon discovers that Ava’s mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she’s sure Ava’s father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she’s not telling Natalie …

Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn’t come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken? (Goodreads)


I love a good crime thriller and this one really satisfied my craving for a true detective story. It is frankly hard to read as a parent because it involves young children. I don’t think I can read another crime novel with children as the victims. It’s just too heartbreaking, but this one was so unputdownable.

“It’s always been a dark world.”

The novel features a really strong female character. Natalie Ward struggles to balance her career, marriage and raising her kids. I felt for her because it’s really hard to be a working mom, and she’s a detective at that. I can’t help but wonder, if she was male, would it have been an issue? I bet it wouldn’t.

I also loved her team of investigators—they are a dream team and I would love to see more of them in action. All the characters are well-rounded and all with interesting back stories.

“Work with what you’ve been given. Don’t turn your attention to what might happen. It hasn’t yet.”

I felt that the story could have gone faster in some parts, but the murderer’s motive is one of the most chilling I’ve ever encountered so it’s definitely worth the wait. I think I now have a fear of yellow dresses. It would be some time before I recover from this book.

Big thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for giving me a copy of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review. 🌸

Overall rating: 3.5/5⭐️

About the Author

Carol E. Wyer, who also writes as Carol Wyer, is an award-winning author and stand up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping thrillers.

Her book, Grumpy Old Menopause won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction 2015.

The DI Robyn Carter series has earned her acclaim as a crime writer and the first book in the series, Little Girl Lost, shot to the #2 best-selling spot on Kindle #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible, and was also a USA Today top 150 best-seller.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

Carol is a signed author with Bookouture (part of the Haschette Group) Canelo and Delancey Press.


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