It’s Vanessa, the lover of crime fiction, back again with another book review. Check out my last review of Harriet Tyce’s compelling debut, Blood Orange. I’m here reviewing another new thriller, JP Delaney’s Playing Nice. I enjoyed reading other JP Delaney books, with The Perfect Wife and The Girl Before as firm favourites. This new psychological thriller, Playing Nice, was published in August 2020. Still pretty hot off the press, it is perfect reading for colder, darker nights!
A life-changing mistake
This story starts on an ordinary day; Peter has just dropped his son Theo at nursery and when he returns home to hear a knock at this door, nothing is the same again. Miles Lambert is at the door and explains that he is Theo’s real dad and that their babies were mixed up due to the wrong labels being put on them in the High Dependency Premature Ward at the hospital.
Theo looks just like Miles and the other child, David, looks like Peter’s wife Maddie. Unfortunately, David was slow to recover from premature birth and finds it difficult to respond to people. Theo is a bouncing toddler full of life and a bit too much energy. It soon transpires that Theo is a bit of a handful and doesn’t mix well with other children and doesn’t share, echoing Miles’ character traits. Peter and Maddie are not well off and Peter is a house-husband. In comparison, Miles and Lucy are very affluent and have a nanny for David. At first, they are pleasant and do not want to swap the children back but would just like to be godparents and in each other’s lives. However, it soon becomes plain that Miles likes everything his own way, and if he doesn’t get it, he will cause trouble.
A cruel twist of fate
I’ve heard people say that there are no winners in legal cases. I’m beginning to understand why.J P Delaney, Playing Nice
A family court case then ensues with each set of parents trying to keep their children. Miles is manipulative and hires an expensive lawyer, managing to persuade everyone that he is best to look after both kids. Maddie had post-natal depression after her son’s birth. She struggled to be a mother as well as hold a job down as the breadwinner of the family. This is used against her as she has been known to have a drink or two to calm her nerves. Evidence is stacked against Maddie and Peter and it’s not looking good.
But as luck would have it, the tables turn when the judge investigates further and new information comes to light. The upshot is that they are all able to keep their children and return to their own lives and everything should return to normal… However, Miles won’t leave it there and things escalate with a chilling theme and conclusion to the story which you don’t see coming.
Morals at the heart
Altogether, this latest novel from J P Delaney is an excellent read and I would certainly recommend it. The moral of the story in Playing Nice is that you shouldn’t take things for granted as they can change overnight and love is the most important thing of all.
By Vanessa Connell, Executive Assistant at World of Books
Have you read Playing Nice? What’s your favourite thriller book? Let us know in the comments below.