In Safe Hands by J.P. Carter

imagesHow far would you go to save the ones you love?

The first book in a gripping new crime series featuring DCI Anna Tate.

When nine children are snatched from a nursery school in South London, their distressed parents have no idea if they will ever see them again. The community in the surrounding area is in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

But DCI Anna Tate knows that nothing is impossible, and she also knows that time is quickly running out. It’s unclear if the kidnappers are desperate for money or set on revenge, but the ransom is going up by £1million daily. And they know that one little boy in particular is fighting for his life.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DCI Anna Tate has ever worked on – not only because nine children are being held hostage, but because she’s pretty sure that someone close to them is lying…

In Safe Hands deals with every parent’s worst nightmare. Nine children are kidnapped from a nursery school in South London and nobody can believe how such a crime has been committed. One child has cystic fibrosis and needs his medication, which the kidnappers didn’t take with them. DCI Anna Tate is in charge of the investigation and she has plenty of suspects. What she doesn’t have is time as the kidnappers have set a ransom and a tight deadline. As a result, the book is tense and very cleverly plotted. And, even if you do manage to guess who is involved early on, there are plenty of other surprises throughout the book.

The book deals with the difficult topic of child abduction in a sensitive manner. Tate is a fascinating character because her own daughter was abducted years before so she is also dealing with the memory and trauma of this. But, when she gets a tip about the location of her daughter, she must prioritise which case to focus on. Tate is an incredibly conflicted character yet she is also always professional. As one of the two narrators, Anna provides the investigative perspective. The other narrator is Ruth, the mother of the boy with cystic fibrosis who also questions everyone around her about the case and provides the more human side of the investigation. There are a lot of characters in the book: the parents of each of the nine children, the teachers, and the police officers. While many authors might get bogged down with juggling all of these characters, focusing on Ruth and Anna perfectly balances the narrative between the police investigation and the desperation the parents. The other parents are often present and we do also get a sense of their suffering but the focus is on Ruth as she also tackles her difficult relationship with her husband and her guilt about her son’s kidnapping.

The book is very fast paced with an incredible sense of urgency and panic. As the mother of a four-year-old, the book really touched a nerve with me as several video clips are sent to news networks of the kids crying and looking dishevelled, which is something that seems frighteningly real. These clips are used to appeal to the emotions of the parents and the public and the government to get their ransom demand so, as would be expected in such a case, media coverage plays a big role in the case. This culminates in a cliffhanger at the end of the book regarding Anna and her missing daughter ensuring that readers come back for the second book in the series, At Your Door, which was published in August 2019.

About the author

fF4IhDqpJ. P. Carter is the pseudonym of a bestselling author who has also written sixteen books under the names Jaime and James Raven. Before becoming a full time writer he spent a career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and television producer. He was for a number of years director of a major UK news division and until recently co-owned a TV production company. For a while he was also a part-time professional magician. He’s married and divides his time now between homes in Hampshire and Spain.

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