Title: Her One Mistake
Author: Hedi Perks
Genre: Domestic Thriller
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Publishing Date: 08 January 2019
“My breath sticks tightly in my throat as I wait for her to ask what I was doing there tonight. In many ways, the truth would be the easy option.”
Harriet Hodder’s daughter is missing. No, not missing: kidnapped from a school fair, in broad daylight, while being cared for by Harriet’s best friend, Charlotte. It was the first time Harriet’s trusted anyone else to care for her daughter, Alice — ever. Charlotte, feeling protective of Harriet, had urged her to go take a class so she can get a job and find some financial independence. But on the surface, it ends up being the worst decision either women have ever made.
Riddled with guilt and scorned by her once close group of friends, Charlotte is beginning to unravel. She doesn’t know how this could’ve happened: why take Alice and not anyone else’s child? How could checking Facebook for a few minutes while her children took Alice to the jungle gym end in tragedy? Charlotte does everything she can to try and apologize, to make things up to Harriet. She even goes over to Harriet’s house the night Alice goes missing to try and apologize. But it’s Harriet’s husband, Daniel, who takes the lead. Who belittles Charlotte and makes her feel even worse for what she did.
“Now she had the overwhelming feeling that if she didn’t run out of the door right now, she might never be able to scratch her way out.”
As the days pass, the trail feels like it’s going cold in the search for Alice. Everyone is expecting a body to turn up at the end of this story. And bodies do turn up — just not who you’d think it would be.
In this domestic thriller, Perks pushes away from the “motherhood is my identity” thrillers I’d read in 2019. She instead shows women leaning on each other, forming bonds deeper than marriage, doing whatever they can to keep each other safe. Her One Mistake was refreshing, not just because of the lack of focus of identity in motherhood, but because of how layered the title ended up being in regards to the story.
“But it made me realize how fragile the strings were that tied the rest of us together. How some friendships are built on so little they can fall apart at the slightest strain.”
For fans of Big Little Lies, Her One Mistake is as much of a page-turning thriller as it is a warning about coercive control and how so often things can look perfect from a distance but never are when you look closer.