Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes

until you're mineWarning: Potentially harmful to pregnant women…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

A chilling psychological thriller about maternal urges, the story is told from three viewpoints. Claudia is a social worker and stepmother to twins, with a long history of miscarriages and still-births. When we meet her, however, she is finally about to achieve her overwhelming desire for motherhood – eight and a half months pregnant and about to give birth to a healthy girl child. Zoe is the impeccably qualified nanny whom Claudia has hired to live-in, to help her with the children while her naval-officer husband James is at sea. Claudia and Zoe each tell their stories in the first-person, so the reader is aware straight away that Zoe isn’t quite what she seems, but Claudia too is soon wondering if she’s made the right choice.

The third viewpoint is told in the third-person, through the eyes of Detective Inspector Lorraine Fisher, whom we meet when she has been called to the scene of a horrific murder. The heavily pregnant victim has had her stomach sliced open and her baby forcibly removed, killing both mother and child. When a second similar crime occurs, it seems there is a maniac targeting pregnant women…

It’s been a while since I found a book that insisted on me pulling an all-nighter to finish it, but this one was truly unputdownable. Although the parts about the murders are graphic and gruesome, they don’t overwhelm the story, which is much more about the psychology of the three women and how they are each, in their different ways, affected by the urge for motherhood. Hayes handles the characterisation of Claudia and Zoe brilliantly, twisting the reader’s assumptions back and forwards, so that the only thing that’s certain is that nothing is quite what it seems. Hayes manages the difficult balance of letting us get to know them well enough to relate to them, while holding enough information back to make each twist a surprise. Lorraine’s story, of trying to handle a major investigation while dealing with a marriage in trouble and a teenage daughter going off the rails, is convincing and realistic; and serves to give a solid base to the increasing tension of the Zoe/Claudia strand.

Samantha Hayes
Samantha Hayes

Dark and disturbing, distinctly scary at points, but handled with a deftness and lightness of touch that prevents it from becoming too difficult a read, this kept me gripped all the way through. Although the storyline stretches credulity a bit, Hayes manages to keep the reader on side through the quality of the writing and characterisation. And one of the best last lines ever…but you’ll need to read the whole thing to find out what that is! Highly recommended – except to pregnant women. This is not one to be reading in the waiting room at the ante-natal clinic…

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Crown Publishing.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

22 thoughts on “Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes

  1. FictionFan – Feelings about pregnancy and parenthood touch such a deep nerve, don’t they? I can see how that could make for an excellent psychological thriller. I have to admit that I’m not much of a one for gruesome scenes, but the story itself really does sound engaging.

    • The bits about the murders did have me squinting through my fingers a bit, but they were few and far between, so didn’t overwhelm the book. It was as much the idea of it that was horrible as the actual descriptions.

  2. Oh my, I’m a bit squeamish about these types of things–not of the murder itself, but of the psychosis that drives someone to do this. It sounds like a good read, but it might give me nightmares.

    • I know it sounds odd, given the subject matter, but she somehow managed to keep it just this side of being too dark. I think it was because the story went slightly over the credulity line – usually a bad thing, but in this case it worked.

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