"Perfect Little Children"

Beth Leeson drives her son to a football game about 12 miles from their village in England. After dropping her son off for the game, she makes a trip to the nearby town to take a look at a magnificent house in an elegant neighborhood.

Beth’s motive is to catch a glimpse of the mansion her best friend Flora moved into 12 years earlier after her husband inherited a huge sum of money. Beth believes Flora chose not to communicate with her anymore because Flora subsequently must have had no use for the “common” folk.

What Beth witnesses is a shock. It leaves her wondering if she has lost her mind. She secretly sees Flora with her two children, Thomas and Emily, who should be in their teens by now. Instead, they are still ages five and three, the same age as when they moved away. Flora and the children leave before Beth can confront them.

Beth ultimately begins to suspect a different motive for Flora’s decision to ignore her for so many years. Beth is frightened. As she thinks about what she has witnessed, she begins to fear that the move 12 years ago was not in the best interest of Flora or her children.

Relentlessly, Beth begins a frantic search to find out what has happened. Her husband supports her in her quest up to a point, but she attempts to communicate with Flora she is thwarted by strangers. Beth experiences growing concern for Flora’s life and the lives of her children. Her searches take her to neighbors in the village where Flora lives, to the schools the children attend, to the police and finally to Florida.

Sophie Hannah has written an intriguing mystery thriller with her newest “Perfect Little Children.” The answer to the mystery, though, uncovers sinister motives by a thoroughly evil character obsessed with perfection and control.

The protagonist, Beth, is charming, funny and brave. The author does a satisfactory ob of mixing psychological drama with the warmth of Beth’s flawed but loving family. The plot seems realistic and honest.

For those wishing to enjoy a good story with bones, I highly suggest curling up with “Perfect Little Children.” It will give you a welcome respite from the current cares of the world.