French brings readers a fast-paced, tightly woven thriller ... The majority of this story takes place over just a few days time, which often helps stories of psychological suspense maintain a fast-paced feel ... the cast of characters in this story, for me personally, felt exactly right...French gives us the perfect number of characters to be mindful of, and also gives each of them enough depth to be able to consider who might have been motivated to commit a terrible act ... Admittedly, there are a couple of tropes used here that some readers may have seen more often than they can enjoy ... an exceptional novel of domestic suspense.
As the narrative unfolds, the suspense ratchets up and readers will find themselves unable to put the book down. The clues and red herrings add a sense of drama to the story, and despite Tess being out of her mind with fear and grief, she garners a great deal of sympathy from the reader. After all, her main purpose in life is to protect her daughter, and she will go to any lengths to do just that. The Unheard is a gripping tale of love and betrayal mixed with human angst.
... a densely written novel, its protagonist pretty hard to like and her growing near-madness difficult to empathise with. When Tess’s motherly love tips over into such a maelstrom of emotions it probably best to take time time out, stand back and breathe deeply before continuing your read – as I found myself doing on numerous occasions, muttering under my breath at what I’d just witnessed on the page. This is not a book that pulls in the reader like a welcoming hug; instead, there’s a sensation of being on the outside, looking in and not liking what you’re seeing ... Tess reminded me of Rachel in The Girl on the Train – someone you wanted to grab by the shoulders and give a bloody good talking to. But, like Rachel, perhaps there is something to her paranoia after all? The Nicci French team may make heavy work of this one, but ultimately, they still manage to surprise and shock ... Nevertheless, this standalone won’t be added to my list of favourite reads of 2021 and Tess certainly isn’t on my Christmas card list, but thankfully there are enough pluses in there to keep psychological thriller fans interested to the final page.