It’s every parent’s nightmare. Your happy, funny, innocent son commits a terrible crime: murdering a complete stranger.
You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your teenage boy is in custody and his future lost.
That night you fall asleep in despair. Until you wake . . .
. . . and it is yesterday.
Every morning you wake up a day earlier, another day before the murder. Another chance to stop it.
Somewhere in the past lie the answers, and you don’t have a choice but to find them . . .
A highly original psychological thriller, Gillian McAllister’s Wrong Place, Wrong Time starts with a murder and travels back in time to illustrate the circumstances that led to the violent death.
Up late one night, Jen witnesses her 18-year-old son Todd stab a man to death out the front of their home. There is no doubt that her son committed the crime, but there’s no indication that he feels remorse for the murder. And the victim? He seems to be a stranger to Jen and the family. So why did her son kill him?
When she wakes up the next day and discovers she’s now 24 hours in the past, it kickstarts a journey back through time to discover what led her son to kill a complete stranger, and hopefully, it might lead Jen to understand how the death can be prevented.
“Jen stands there, staring at it, at this betrayal in her hand. She hadn’t thought what she would do if she found something. She never thought she would. She holds the long, sinister black handle. The panic begins again, a tide of anxiety that goes out to sea but always, always returns.”
Written in third person and intricately plotted, Wrong Place, Wrong Time is an incredibly clever feat, and I genuinely think this is one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. The premise feels original and unique, and I felt fully invested in the storyline. As Jen travels further into the past and events start to get quite complex, I still found it easy to keep track of characters, sequences, events and timelines. This shows how much meticulous planning has gone into this book.
Books that experiment with time travel can be hit-and-miss but readers will love this one. At its core, this is a story about a mother who will do anything to help her son and keep him out of harm. As soon as she starts travelling back in time, she infiltrates his world and comes to learn the people he surrounds himself with are not as authentic and trustworthy as they may initially seem.
“He folds his arms, his wedding ring catching the sunlight. He is looking closely at her, his eyes scanning her face. She is suddenly self-conscious under his gaze, as though he is about to uncover something awful, something deadly.”
Whilst we follow Jen for most of the novel, there are some chapters from the perspective of a young police officer. For a time I was wondering why his story was relevant to the overarching plot, but when the twist hits it really sideswipes you as the reader — what a fantastic plot device!
The only element of the book that I couldn’t quite love is the reasonings behind why Todd committed the murder in the first chapter. Even after we learn about the past, there does seem to be a slight disconnect between what Todd knew and why he felt the need to murder someone – did he try anything else before resorting to murder? It did feel a little extreme…
“She does nothing, so he brushes past, leaving her there, alone, in the mist, wondering what’s happening. Whether the future has continued on without her. If there’s another Jen somewhere. Asleep, or too shocked to function? In the world where Todd is probably currently remanded, arrested, charged, convicted. Alone.”
Fast-paced, high-stakes, and highly engrossing, Gillian McAllister’s Wrong Place, Wrong Time is recommended for readers of crime, thriller and mystery. Readership skews 25+
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Penguin Random House Book Publishers