Forgotten, by Nicole Trope

Finally they are in the queue to get back out onto the main road.
Coffee, here I come.
‘Not now, Aaron, I’m trying to concentrate.’
The traffic has built up in only a few minutes and cars scream past the service station. Malia feels her headache settle in.
This day is never going to end.
‘But Mum…’
‘What Aaron, what?’
‘Where is baby Zach, Mum? Where is he?’

It’s early morning, and already Malia knows it’s not going to be a good day. Her husband Ian has confessed to losing money on the pokies last night – money that could have paid the bills that are piling up. She’s got three kids to get ready for school and daycare. And there is no milk for breakfast. She has to get all three children into the car to make the short drive to the service station so that they can have breakfast. But something terrible happens while she’s buying the milk and suddenly her day is as bad as a day could be. Baby Zach is gone, and she is surrounded by police.

Ali Greenberg is a Detective newly returned to work from maternity leave. She’s been itching to be given a case to solve, but her boss is not sure this is the case for her. She knows better than anyone else around what it is Malia is going through. It might be a better idea to stay at the office – but she feels compelled to help Malia get her baby back.

Jackie is down on her luck. She has said sorry a thousand times, but still she has been punished for a terrible mistake. A strange turn of events gives her what she sees as a chance to put her life back together.

In one hot, troubling day, Forgotten follows the troubling, heartstopping race to find an abducted baby and reunite mother and child. The stories of four women who don’t know each other become inextricably intertwined, and readers will have their hearts in their mouths as the day unfolds.

Well crafted, this is a dramatic tale.

Forgotten, by Nicole Trope
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781760296773

Hush, Little Bird, by Nicole Trope

Hush, Little BirdShe’s coming today. She’s coming here. Right here to where I am.
I thought I would have to wait two years to see her. Two whole, long years. I haven’t seen her for a lot longer than that. I haven’t seen her since I was eight years old and now I am thirty-three years old. That’s twenty-five years.

When she was a child, Birdy was hurt by people she should have been able to trust. Now she’s a mother herself, but she’s away from her daughter, and the rest of her family. While she’s inside, she’s had time to think about those who hurt her – and she will make them pay. So, when Rose is transfered to the same facility, Birdy is excited at the opportuntiy to exact revenge.

Rose has been convicted of a terrible crime – the manslaughter of her husband, a former television icon who had a secret, shocking life that Rose and their children had no idea about. But Rose should have seen, should have sensed that something was wrong. Shouldn’t she?

Hush, Little Bird is a shocking, intriguing tale which deals compassionately and honestly with the difficult subject of paedophila and abuse. Told through the alternating voices of Rose and Birdy, the novel gradually reveals what has come before. For Birdy, this is the tale of her abuse as a child, the intervening years and how she came to be now in prison, plotting revenge on those responsible. For Rose, this is the story of her seemingly perfect marriage to a man she now comes to realise she didn’t know well at all, and the events that led to her being accused of killing him. It is also the story of how their lives overlap and what happens when they cross paths again.

While dealing with a hard subject, the story is not only palatable but also compelling, with the reader able to connect with the characters and get to know them intimately. Hush, Little Bird is well wrought, important and a great read.

Hush, Little Bird, by Nicole Trope
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781760113728

Available from good bookstores and online.

Three Hours Late, by Nicole Trope

Once, so very long ago, she had watched him like this when he came to pick her up for a date…Her stomach fluttered and burned with infatuation and desire. She would watch him walk up the path and think, ‘This must be love.’

Liz is afraid. She’s taken her son and fled a violent marriage. Now her precious son, Luke, is out on an access visit with his father – and they’re late home. She’s always been sure Alex would never hurt Luke, but today she’s no so sure. Today she’s told him, once and for all, that she isn’t coming back to him. Is this the news that will push him over the edge? As he minutes turn to hours, Liz knows something terrible has happened. The trick is getting anyone else to believe her.

Three Hours Late is a wrenching tale of marriage break up, love and desperation. As Liz waits, we learn the tale of her own marriage as well as those of hers and Alex, building a picture not just of what has happened but, to some extent, why. The story blends suspense with empathy in a mi which keeps the reader guessing right till the end.

Three Hours Late

Three Hours Late, by Nicole Trope
Allen & Unwin, 2013
ISBN 9781743313152

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Boy Under the Table, by Nicole Trope

Bein a mother was all-consuming.
There were so many mistakes you could make, so many ways to lose a child.

When Tina, a runaway teen living on the streets of the Cross, breaks her own rules and goes home with a stranger, she knows it is a dangerous thing to do. But she doesn’t expect to find something in the stranger’s house that will change her life forever. There is a boy tied up underneath the man’s kitchen table, and although Tina knows she could pretend that she saw nothing, the haunting image of that child’s face doesn’t leave her and she has to go back for him

In a distant country twon, Doug and Sarah wait for news of their son, missing for four months. A moment of innatention at the Easter Show and he was gone – vanished without a trace. Their lives are in limbo as they wait for news of his fate.

Their friend Pete, the town policeman, waits too. He and his wife are childless and see Lockie as a surrogate grand child, Doug as a son. As a policeman Pete knows he should remain distanced, but as a friend he suffers too.

The Boy Under the Table is a shocking story of abduction and mistreatment, told through the alternating viewpoints of Tina, Sarah, Doug and Pete. As well as being the frightening, yet moving, tale of Lockie’s ordeal, it is also the story of Tina’s own loss of a brother and the circumstances which saw her end up on the street, of Doug and Sarah’s relationship, and of their friendship with Pete. These other plot lines help to make the story more real, but also more palatable, offering relief from what could be an overwhelming main storyline.

Whilst this is not an easy read in terms of subject matter, it is gripping and also full of hope against pretty tough odds. Trope handles the subject deftly and with compassion making it not just palatable but ultimately uplifting.

The Boy Under the Table

The Boy Under the Table, by Nicole Trope
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742379272

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.