“The First Mistake” by Sandie Jones is a truly suspenseful mystery with two female protagonists and a plot that is masterfully planned and executed. Alice finally seems to have her life together. After her first husband, Tom, died, she went to pieces. But for the sake of their daughter, she put her life together, relying on Nathan, whom she met and married less than a year after Tom died.
Her life with Nathan has seemed perfect until recently. He took her daughter and treated her as his daughter. They quickly had another daughter together. He works with her at the design firm she started with Tom. However, a few things have happened to make her suspect that he is having an affair.
But her company has the possibility of a huge new project in Japan, and while Alice won’t leave her daughters to travel there, Nathan handles the travel. When the deal falls through and Nathan makes a surprising proposal, Alice is all in. But between her suspicions about his infidelity and her worry about problems a daughter is having in school, she has no time to think clearly about anything.
Alice’s best friend, Beth, has never met Nathan. Yet Beth’s daughter Millie and her daughter are good friends. She and Beth are good friends. But Beth’s past intersects with Alice’s in a way that neither of them really expects.
Jones creates a plot wherein the reader thinks one thing is happening, but it is not. But while other novels usually have only one other thing happening, this plot has several. Things are not what they appear to be, and even after the first layer of camouflage is peeled away, things are still not what they appear to be. Irony upon irony.
This is a novel that will keep the readers thinking about the characters and what happens long after the last page is turned. It’s about how things are so often really, really not what they appear to be. Savvy readers will pick up clues along the way about what might happen, and some of those clues do lead to the final denouement. But for many readers, it’s only in retrospect that they will see how everything adds up. All is mysterious and deceiving; all is logical.
Brilliantly done, “The First Mistake” is a pleasure to read.
This review was originally posted on Bookreporter.com.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Minotaur Books, for review purposes.