13 April 2024

Review: THE DINNER PARTY, Rebecca Heath

  • This edition made available as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • Published 03 Jan 2024 by Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Extent     416 pages
  • ISBN     9781804546109

Synopsis (Publisher

The new exciting thriller by Rebecca Heath, author of THE SUMMER PARTY. A dark and twisty domestic thriller set in a seemingly idyllic suburban neighbourhood, where family secrets are best kept buried...

Summer 1979. In the idyllic suburban neighbourhood of Ridgefield, Australia, during a scorching heat wave, four couples gather for their weekly dinner party.

When Frank Callaghan checks on the sleeping children, he finds an empty crib where his four-month-old daughter Megan should be sleeping. The party-goers swear they didn't see anything but each of them has something to hide.

Forty years later, a stranger knocks at the Callaghan's door. She claims to be their missing daughter. And she's holding the blanket she was wrapped in the night she disappeared.

Shocked, the Callaghans must finally confront how well they know their neighbours, and ask themselves:
Where has Megan really been all this time?

My Take

There is so much to like about this novel, not just that it is by a South Australian author, or that it is right in the time frame of my own life.

The action begins in 1979 with the disappearance of a 4 month old baby while her parents are at a dinner party in a neighbouring house. 40 years later 'The Callaghan Baby Podcast' is investigating what is now a forty-year-old cold case, bringing together investigative evidence from when the disappearance happened, police reports, a coronial investigation, interviews with suspects, family and neighbours both then and now.  The author combines that with other voices, particularly that of Billie, the adult daughter of baby Megan's sister.

This made the structure of the novel very complex, and quite challenging for the reader, but a staggering achievement. So much of the book rang true for me.

The family is marking the anniversary of Megan's disappearance with a family gathering when there is a knock at the door: a stranger is standing on the doorstep.  

Little by little, elements of the mystery are revealed and the reader is asked to assess evidence.

Highly recommended.

My Rating: 5.0

About the Author
Rebecca Heath studied science at university, worked in hospitality and teaching, but she always carved out time to write. She lives in Adelaide, Australia, halfway between the city and the sea with her husband, three children and a much-loved border collie. She spent her childhood summers at a remote beach. Her first novel is THE SUMMER PARTY

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