Anna Snoekstra is a debut author from Melbourne, Australia. Only Daughter is her first foray into crime fiction and was recently released. Readers who enjoy dueling timelines and complex female narrators will enjoy this succinct debut.
This tightly written novel (it clocks in at only 288 pages) wastes no time before jumping into the main plot. As Only Daughter opens, a young woman has been arrested for shoplifting. Facing prison time, she decides that her only option is to pretend to be Rebecca “Bec” Winter, a similar-looking girl who went missing from their town back in 2003.
Our un-named narrator sees this as a quick solution to her current dilemma, but quickly begins to realize that she might be able to pull off this hoax – thereby gifting herself with an instant family, loyal friends, and a dash of notoriety. Using her devious mind, she manages to circumvent hurdles – such as DNA testing – that would have had most folks cowering in the corner.
Alternating with these chapters detailing this young woman’s assimilation into Bec’s sphere are sections documenting the challenges in the real Bec’s life in the days leading up to her disappearance. As reader’s learn more and more about what really happened on that day in 2003, it becomes clear that pretending to be this troubled girl might not have been the best choice. Bec Winter has secrets and someone out there knows what they are.
Between the attention of Bec’s parents and brothers and the scrutiny of Bec’s closest friends, this pretender would have her hands full; but when you add in the investigation by the police who want to know where Bec has been all these years, you can feel the noose tightening. The final straw comes when fake Bec begins to receive threatening text messages implying that maybe she hasn’t been quite as convincing as she believed.
Anna Snoekstra writes with a clarity that lends a sense of ease to the reading of Only Daughter. As the pages turn, Snoekstra ratchets up the suspense until readers can’t help but find themselves rooting for this imposter. The short chapters and quick shifts between time periods make it virtually impossible to stop reading until all the questions are answered. Often debut novels will suffer with their conclusions, but Snoekstra succeeds in tying these threads together in logical ways that seem both surprising and obvious at the same time.
Readers who experience Only Daughter will certainly be clamoring for another novel by Anna Snoekstra. This is a writer who knows how to craft a compelling plot populated with interesting individuals. It will be exciting to see what she offers readers next.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.