I’d like to thank Helen Richardson of Head of Zeus, for inviting me to read playdate written by Alex Dahl for this blog tour – its been a real rollercoaster, not only as a parent but as a reader.
Gripping, dark and fresh, PLAYDATE is the latest thriller from the CWA dagger-shortlisted author of THE BOY AT THE DOOR and THE HEART KEEPER.
Have you seen Lucia Blix?
Lucia went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, Lucia’s mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and kissed her little girl goodnight. That was the last time she saw her daughter. The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia. In Playdate, Alex Dahl puts a microscope on a seemingly average, seemingly happy family plunged into a life-altering situation. Who has taken their daughter, and why?
Our Author: Alex Dahl
Half-American, half-Norwegian, Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She graduated with a B.A. in Russian and German linguistics with international studies and went on to complete an M.A. in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, followed by an M.S. in Business Management at Bath University. Alex has published short stories in the U.K. and the U.S. She is a serious Francophile and currently lives in both London and Sandefjord. The Boy at the Door (2018) was translated into ten languages and is currently shortlisted for a CWA Dagger award. The Heart Keeper (2019) is out now. Next up- Playdate (2020)
My Review: playdate
So, every parent has been there, you get to the school gates and right in front of the friend that’s invited them back that day, they plead, ‘can I go and play, they said I can, please?’ And make you feel awful when you know you have to say no, as you still have to get home, cook the dinner, help them with homework etc. The other kids parent who’ve you’ve never met, feels awkward saying ‘sorry sweetie, not today, maybe next week’…. yes, two sulking kids right there. But … even before I read this, its what I would and have done, many times.
Sadly, Lucia’s mum Elisa, gives in and lets her go and play at her new friend Josie’s place. Her Mum rings later and asks if she can stay over for a sleep over, it’s Friday, no school the next day, they are playing so nicely and so excited to be doing a sleep over – if Elisa says its ok. She does, despite her reservations about it being the first time Lucia has really been away over night, she agrees to go over and drop her night bag off and her toy that she can’t sleep without. Josie’s Mum, Line seems really nice and their house is lovely. What could go wrong?
Well, when Lucia isn’t brought back home when they expect her, her Dad Fredrik becomes concerned, Line called and said she’d take the girls swimming and that was hours ago now. Elisa is a fight attendant and he’s been waiting for her to land, as he doesn’t know where Line and Josie live. Elisa feels panicked but stays calm, until they reach the house and its clear, they aren’t there. Where is her daughter?
The Police are called, search teams set up, by now she’s been gone more than 24 hours, she could be anywhere. The quiet town of Sandefjord is anything but right now, in that moment, it becomes the town everyone the world over knows the name of and will know that its where Lucia Blix was abducted from.
Alex Dahl has written strong chapters, each from the perspective of the difference characters contained in playdate from Elisa and Fredrik, Lucia and later her abductor and also Selma Eriksen, a local journalist that has the feeling that Luciais still alive, months after the trail for her has gone cold and almost all hope is lost of getting her back alive. Selma has a back story that provokes these intuitions. A sense of place is strong and the forest and mountains create images for the reader.
Elisa and Fredrik go through every emotion known to man, they have to admit to secrets they’ve kept from each other and ultimately, to them selves, Karma? Payback? Redemption? Kidnap, human trafficking gangs. It’s haunting them, they would do anything to get Lucia back and Elisa and Fredrik are desperate to find her, will they get her back alive?
A gripping and timely novel, with emotion and great characterisation.