ARC REVIEW: Playing Nice – by J.P. Delaney

Title: Playing Nice
Author: J.P. Delaney
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Finished reading: July 24th 2020
Pages: 432

“Psychopaths are like tone-deaf people at a concert, mocking those who cry at the beauty of the music as fools.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Quercus in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been meaning to try JP Delaney‘s writing for a long time now, and even bought a physical copy of The Girl Before last year so I would finally do so… But somehow his titles have always slipped through the cracks so far. I was delighted when my request for his newest title Playing Nice was approved, because it ment that I now had the guarantee I would finally do so as I’m a sucker for sticking to deadlines… And I most definitely enjoyed my first experience with his writing. Well written, suspenseful, intense, shocking… Playing Nice is a more than solid psychological thriller.

The premise of this book is absolutely fascinating and without doubt the ultimate horror situation for new parents. Imagine not only having your child being born early and facing such difficulties, but then discovering two years later it isn’t actually your child you’ve been caring for all this time? Babies switched at birth sounds like a Hollywood script, but sadly it still does happen in real life and it sounds terrifying. Especially if you have to deal with a person like Miles afterwards… It was fascinating to see both Pete and Maddie to react to the shocking news that Theo wasn’t really their child, and seeing the resulting situation develop definitely had a lot of nail biting involved.

Playing Nice is psychological thriller at its best, where the suspense is build up slowly but steadily and the situation starts spinning out of control. That ominous feel is always present, and you keep wondering just how far things will go… Miles is the perfect villain and his character is very well developed. He is despicable of course, but his development and role in the plot really make this story. The story is told alternating between Pete and Maddie’s POV, and we get to see the situation through both their eyes. Pete and Maddie’s characters are both well developed too; they have their flaws, secrets and their development in general felt realistic. I wasn’t sure if I actually liked them, or at least I wasn’t really a fan of Maddie, but their situation is fascinating enough to keep you on your toes even if you are not able to connect to them fully.

What seems like an ordinary psychological thriller at first, soon turns into something a whole lot more intense after you realize the extent of the problems Pete and Maddie now face. Your inner alarm will sound straight away, and this will keep you on your toes as you keep reading and try to read the signs. When the situation starts spinning out of control, the level of intensity and suspense cranks up and there are quite a few plot twists bombs placed in convenient places. Playing Nice will go out with a bang as well, and if you enjoy the genre you will most likely enjoy your time with this one.


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