“The Push” by Claire McGowan

The Push by Claire McGowan is a straight-up murder mystery with breadcrumbs—of all sizes— scattered throughout story that will keep the reader engaged in trying to figure out just what happened from the first page until the last.

The story follows a group of disparate characters with little in common other than living in London and being expectant parents. We meet them at a community group for expecting parents run by boho-chic Nina. But at the center of it all is Jax, a 38-year-old, first-time mother-to-be, who is pregnant by her much younger boyfriend Aaron, a handsome bartender she met at a speed dating event.

Almost immediately, the story jumps ahead six months to a barbecue where the group reunites after most of the babies are born. The characters soon realize, however, this is no typical backyard get-together, as one of them falls to their death from a balcony.

From the moment we learn of the accident (or was it?), McGowan takes us on dizzying ride jumping between the modern-day investigation of the death and an examination of the lives of each of the characters prior to the fateful party. We learn about Jax’s tumultuous life and Aaron’s dramatic backstory, as well as the not-so-perfect lives of their former classmates.

Creating even more mystery is the fact McGowan keeps the victim’s identity a secret through half of the book. Her deliberateness in doling out information about the characters, including some dark secrets, serves to further heighten the story’s intensity.

THE FINAL WORD: With twists and turns aplenty, The Push reminded me of an old-fashioned murder mystery, like Agatha Christie would have written. While some clues are fairly easy to piece together (at least for this armchair detective), others are definite jaw droppers. I thoroughly enjoyed following McGowan’s trail of breadcrumbs and would PUSH other fans of the genre to read it too.

Thank you to #NetGalley for the advance reader copy!