For a tale of our times you can’t do much better than this one. Yvonne, lonely and unsure after giving birth. Having recently moved to Ireland from London she is being urged by her husband and midwife to get out and meet more people, not really ready for that she does the next best thing and goes on-line and joins ‘NetMammy’ somewhere she can get advice and support. All too soon the on-line community has become something of a crutch as she logs on to check up on her new friend’s lives. One woman is of particular support so when her on-line presence disappears around the same time as a young single mother is reported missing, Yvonne rings the police to voice her concerns that the on-line moniker is in fact the single woman that is missing.
Some of the story contains the actual forum conversation most of these accurately reflect the types of exchange that are found on these sites but some contain clues – don’t be fooled, as well as a reflecting the modern world, this book is a thriller at heart! I enjoyed the exchanges, interaction between people that don’t really know each other is fascinating as you never quite know who is behaving just as they would anywhere, and who is hiding behind the anonymity of the screen. And Yvonne, how much of her life has she shared inadvertently while discussing her husband’s long working hours, nappies and formula milk? This is the part that made me pause for thought, after all I do have an on-line presence, it isn’t hard, should you be so minded, to find out my name, where I live etc and you would easily be able to find out where I work, who my friends are and what I do for relaxation – hopefully none of you want to hunt me down except in a friendly way!!
Along with Yvonne’s story we also see the story unfold from Sergeant Claire Boyle’s point of view. Claire is trying to carry on as normal but being pregnant and chasing criminals is taking its toll and her work colleagues as well as her friends and family telling her to take it easy is not helping her mood. She is investigating the death of the young woman found dead in a flat in Dublin leaving a young daughter, a woman who seemingly had few friends so the investigation hasn’t exactly got off to a flying start, the police aren’t even entirely sure who she had arranged to meet the night she died.
This is a fast-paced read and as the plot starts to unfold the tension mounted and had me turning the pages faster to find out exactly what had happened, and why. The subject matter is fascinating, after all social media is used by so many of us and it is part of everyday life, I am also fond of reading comments on news sites, predicting how many will come up with the more extreme views in any story is a hobby – and the NetMammy site is no different, some of the women’s comments were so predictable! I really liked Claire, her realistic persona made the book for me, a well-rounded and normal person who does her job with a healthy dose of instinct and to make the story work, a little disregarding of the rules when needed.
A book that firmly fits into the category of thriller but one with a fresh and modern feel to it this is one I will be recommending, but probably not to anyone who is a new mum!
I am enormously grateful to Quercus for my copy of Can Anybody Help Me? which was published on 29 January 2015, in return for my honest opinion.