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Playing Nice by JP Delaney

Published : 9th August 2020

Publisher : Quercus

Format : Kindle, Audio, Hardback, Paperback

Genre : Psychological Thriller


Pete Riley answers the door one morning to a parent's worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, who breaks the devastating news that Pete's two-year-old, Theo, isn't Pete's real son - their babies got mixed up at birth.

The two families - Pete, his partner Maddie, and Miles and his wife Lucy - agree that, rather than swap the boys back, they'll try to find a more flexible way to share their children's lives. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an investigation that unearths disturbing questions about just what happened the day the babies were switched.

And when Theo is thrown out of nursery for hitting other children, Maddie and Pete have to ask themselves: how far do they want this arrangement to go? What secrets lie hidden behind the Lamberts' smart front door? How much can they trust the real parents of their child - or even each other?

An addictive psychological thriller, perfect for fans ofThe Silent Patient and Shari Lapena's The Couple Next Door.

Thank you Quercus for this brilliantly gripping and chilling read.

My Review

One knock at your door and your child becomes a stranger

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of this authors work, so when I was offered to the opportunity to read Playing Nice I literally jumped at the chance.

I think this has to be his best book yet. The story is told over two narratives, Pete and Maddie and has court documents in-between every chapter which are like brilliant little teaser snippets.

The pair live in London with their two year son Theo. Pete is a freelance journalist after losing his job at a newspaper and stay at home dad, they both agreed this was the best option as Maddie suffered post natal depression after the birth.

One afternoon after bringing Theo home from nursery he hears a knock at the door, a private investigator and a smart man in a suit, they ask if they can come in as they have some important news that needs discussing, Pete is told that the child they are calling their son is actually not their son, Miles and the private investigator provide proof by DNA that they took from a stolen sip cup and show Pete a photo of a boy called David who is their biological child currently living at Miles house with his wife. Although distraught Pete instantly sees a resemblance in the little boy in the photo to his wife Maddie.

Both the boys were premature babies born in a private hospital but both sent to the local NHS hospital due to medical complications. It was between the two hospitals they the suspicion is that they were accidentally swapped over. Miles states that they are currently suing the private hospital and encourages Pete to do the same.

Both men leave asking Pete to contact them when it has all sunk in a little.

When Pete breaks the news to Maddie she is understandably upset but admits that she always felt that there was no bond in the beginning with Theo.

Upon invitation the pair head over to The Lamberts to discuss the situation and for the boys to meet. They are welcomed in with open arms and Maddie is shocked at how much Theo looks like Miles and when she sees David the bond that she didn't feel with Theo when he was born reverberates throw her so strongly. David is nothing like boisterous Theo though, he clearly has a lot of medical issues, he is smaller more fragile and told he needs round the clock care. Lucy clearly loves David to pieces and clearly no expense is spared for his medical needs.

The children go off with the nannie and they all sit down to discuss what they are going to do, both sides agree that they want to keep the children they have but to move forward raising the boys as cousins and to spend holidays and time in-between with each other so each couple can get to know their biological child.

Pete and Maddie leave feeling relieved and happy that this is all going so smoothly. The Lamberts seem lovely people.

That is until Miles starts turning up unannounced with expensive gifts and assuming he can read and put Theo to bed and then publicly calling Pete out on his discipline skills with Theo whilst Pete is trying to stop Theo from kicking off in a church.

Pete has a chat with miles about boundaries and all seems fine until the Lamberts suggest an easter holiday away, at first Pete and Maddie are up for it but when Miles consistently over steps the boundaries time and again they decide to lie and say they cant go due to Maddie's family visiting from Australia.

This doesn't go down well and they soon realise that if Miles doesn't get his way then he gets very angry.

After turning up again unannounced one evening to find that Maddie and Pete are with friends not family he storms out and everything changes.

They receive court papers the next day stating that The Lamberts are filing for full custody of Theo and also special guardianship of David so Maddie and Pete will be left with no children at all.

The story takes a dark turn from the point on, Maddie and Pete re mortgage their home and try and fight for their son as well as their biological son as Maddie cant bear to leave him in the home of what they are realising is an extremely clever and twisted psychopath.

Everything that they had discussed as friends regarding parenting has been turned against them to make them out as unfit parents and that the paperwork was filed within the first week of them meeting so Miles and no intention of ever making this work amicably, he was just gaining evidence to use again them.

The more they dig up about Miles the more they understand that this man will stop at nothing to get his child back and that in fact he is actually a very dangerous man.

Why I Loved It

I loved how this story affected my emotions. I had pure anger throughout for Miles, his character was pure evil, a wolf in sheep's clothing whilst his wife Lucy was lovely yet to frightened to stand up to her abusive husband.

Maddie I liked and didn't like, her character was very cleverly written and left me constantly in doubt about how I felt about her, Pete was just an all round good guy caught up with a nasty manipulative man and living with a distant wife.

This story touched a personal note with me as like the characters in the

Book, my daughter was born early and after a very brief look they whisked her away to the NICU to be placed in an incubator. My husband went with her and when I was able, he wheeled me down to look at her a few hours later when I could move. At first I didn't recognise the tiny bundle hooked up to wires in that clear box and for a second wondered if she was mine as I did not get a proper look of her in the operating theatre.

This is a book jam packed full of suspense, totally compelling and keeps you on the edge of your seat with your heart in your mouth the entire time.

If you have not read this author before then scroll down as I have included his other books that are all fantastic reads, I highly recommend them all.



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Meet the author

People often ask why I write under a pseudonym. There’s no great mystery to it – it’s simply that I like to write different kinds of books, and publishers and retailers believe it’s confusing for readers to pick up a book by an author they think they know, only to discover it’s a completely different kind of story to the one they were expecting.

Personally, I think my books have much more in common with each other than they have differences. I find similar characters, themes and interests cropping up whatever I’m writing. (Sometimes I even drop in little parallels, just for fun…) And my relationship with the reader is always fundamentally the same. I never forget I’m inviting them to come with me on a journey,  and that as their host and guide it’s my duty to enthral them.

Connect with JP



Books by this author

The Girl Before

Believe Me

The Perfect Wife

Claire's Similar reads

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Our House by Louise Cavendish

I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this review, if you have read this book why not drop me a line telling me your thoughts?

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