THE STEPSON by Jane Renshaw
The book tells the story of Nick Clyde. When he was sixteen, he came home from a day out with his friend to discover their house was empty, his family had disappeared – his father, stepmother and little sister. Now, in 2019, he’s grown up, successful, wealthy, living in London and married to Lulu, who’s a therapist from Australia. But Lulu is realising there’s something a bit strange about Nick…
Back in time to 1997, we read the thoughts of his stepmother Maggie. She is married to Nick’s father Duncan, pregnant and feeling outclassed. She comes home from a classy honeymoon cruise to their house, Sunnyside, where Duncan had lived with his wife Kathleen, who had died eighteen months before. Maggie is trying to fit in, but as she has the baby and settles into her new life, she is realising there’s something a bit strange about Nick…
Wow, this was a rollercoaster ride – up, down, thrills and spills – and I have rarely hated a fictional character as much as I hated Nick! It’s the sort of book you want to keep reading, as you’re desperate to find out what happens! You really feel for the characters involved in this story (and the dog!). It’s very cleverly written, it keeps you guessing right until the last page and it has a great ending too.
9 out of 10
As a child, Jane spent a lot of time in elaborate Lego worlds populated by tiny plastic animals and people. Crime levels were high, especially after the Dragon brothers set themselves up as vets and started murdering the animals in their ‘care’. (They got away with it by propping the victims up with Plasticine and pretending they were still alive…)
As an adult, she is still playing in imaginary worlds and putting her characters through hell – but now she can call it ‘writing’ and convince herself that she is doing something sensible. In real life, she has a PhD in genetics and copy-edits scientific and medical journals.
Jane writes psychological thrillers. The Stepson will be her fourth novel published with Inkubator Books.
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He lost one family. Now he’s ready for another.
Psychotherapist Lulu is sure she’s the luckiest woman alive. She has a wonderful job and is married to the love of her life, Nick – who also happens to be ridiculously handsome and fabulously wealthy.
But now a shadow has fallen on her perfect life.
She can see that Nick is struggling with demons from his past. When he was sixteen his entire family disappeared without a trace and Nick has always insisted thathis stepmother – whom he hated – was to blame, that she did something terrible to his beloved father and baby sister. And that trauma has left him feeling that anyone he loves is in danger, might vanish in a heartbeat.
So now he is obsessed with Lulu’s safety. He needs to know where she is 24/7, insists she carries a can of pepper spray, is constantly watching for any potential threats.
Lulu can see that this extreme anxiety is wearing Nick down. And as a therapist, she knows the only way to heal a trauma is to confront it. So she persuades him to return to the country house from which his family vanished.
But soon after they arrive in this sleepy rural community, another person disappears.
As Lulu is forced to question everything she knows about Nick and his missing family, dark secrets emerge from the past. The certainties of her old life fade away and are replaced by a horror she could never have imagined in her wildest nightmares.
The Stepson – the stunning psychological thriller perfect for fans of Teresa Driscoll, K L Slater, Daniel Hurst.