Ed and Claire are hosting a Sunday get together for their daughter Abbie and her new boyfriend Ryan. Although they’ve been together a few months, he’s been working away so much they haven’t had chance to spend any time with him. On the face of it Ryan is the perfect candidate to keep Mum and Dad happy. He has a great job, a first-class degree and a past army career with the Anglian Regiment. He’s charming and very good looking. Abbie seems happier than Ed has seen her in a long time. However, there only has to be one catch, and as Ed catches Ryan’s dark eyes they seem endless. However, Ed senses a void behind them and wonders if the man standing in front of him is the real Ryan at all. As Ryan asks for Abbie’s hand in marriage, Ed is horrified. Even worse, they plan to marry in less than six weeks. This leaves Ed very little time to investigate and without much to go on. Like every protective Dad, he’s going to stop at nothing to protect his daughter. Is Ryan simply too good to be true, or is Ed’s obsession with his daughter getting out of hand?
I’m daughter of an overprotective dad, so I bought into the premise immediately. Told largely from Ed’s perspective, this is one of those cliched ‘couldn’t put it down’ books, that I devoured in one day while recovering from a back injury. I trusted Ed as a narrator, but every so often a little clue was popped in there to throw doubt on his character or state of mind. The secret visits to a building near Hooters, his attitude towards Abbie’s previous boyfriend George or the terribly sad family loss that could explain his inability to let go of his daughter. The author keeps the tension going by slowly counting down the days to the wedding. There are also tense set pieces: Ed and Ryan racing through Nottingham traffic at rush hour; Ed letting himself into Ryan’s house only for Ryan to come home unexpectedly; Ryan driving along while Abbie reads through the private investigator’s report.
There are times when it seems Ed is so reckless I thought the obsession might be getting out of hand. In pursuit of Ryan’s past he is mugged on a sink estate and almost arrested for soliciting. His manager is asking for work he doesn’t produce and he looms close to disciplinary action. His relationship with his wife Claire is suffering and she warns him that the more he pursues this, the more he will push their daughter away. Yet Ryan does have some questions to answer. He appears to have no family and isn’t visiting his mum’s grave every other Sunday like he tells Abbie. He visits a drug house regularly and doesn’t appear to have any social media presence before 2013. Ed is willing to spend thousands of pounds on a private investigator in the hope that he will unearth something before the wedding day. I won’t ruin everyone’s read, but the truth, when it is revealed is more far reaching than I imagined. It seems that both men have been in a cat and mouse situation far longer than we realised. The author keeps the story compelling till the very last moments and I enjoyed every minute.