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Life has not been easy for Annie Wray. Her husband died of leukaemia and she was left to bring up her two young children Dan and Rachel. She appears to have a second chance at happiness after meeting Julian who eventually proposes to her. Before they can set a date for the wedding though, twelve year old Dan fails to return from school one day and appears to have vanished without trace. This is the situation that is met by the reader at the start of 'Deceptions'' and no one has a clue where he might be or what might have happened to him.
The story, told by Julian, chronicles what happens next including the police investigation and Annie's stubborn determination not to give up on her son even after three years with not even a sighting. The relationship crumbles and Annie behaves quite desperately at times. However, quite out of the blue, they receive some news about Dan which is quite astounding. Will they finally be able to get some answers and resume their lives, or are things really as they might first seem?
'Deceptions' gripped me from the very first moment that I picked it up and I felt compelled to keep reading until I was able to find out what had happened to Dan. There are moments of true suspense in this book and the feeling that something sinister has occurred or will do soon. It is the sort of book that as soon as you think you can see where it might be going it takes a quite unexpected turn and that is one of the reasons why it is so absorbing.
What made 'Deceptions' even more compelling for me though is the fact that alongside the mystery and suspense there is also the human tragedy and the desperation of a family that is disintegrating. Unless they get to the truth about Dan they can do nothing about it and even then, there is the possibility that it might be too late. I found the author's choice of Julian as the narrator to be an interesting one. As the future stepfather he is perhaps a little more removed from the situation and so he tells the tale in a somewhat rational and detached manner. This actually worked very well for me and it also served to illustrate his growing isolation from Annie as she refuses to give up on her son. It makes you see how even the strongest of relationships might struggle when put under so much duress. It is most thought provoking in that way.
Unusually, the chapters were numbered in reverse order. When I first saw this I wondered whether the story was going to be told going backwards in time. This was not the case though. This numbering did add to the suspense though and definitely provided the feeling that the story was counting down to something quite sensational.
Overall, 'Deceptions' is a truly gripping read that had me hooked from the first page. You can't really say that it is an enjoyable read because of the gloomy subject matter, but it is a book that you will feel glad that you have read.
The paperback is currently available on Amazon for £7.41 (October 2010)
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk