Exton Cross is the perfect small town to go unnoticed. At least that was what Kelly hoped for when she and her son Joe moved there. But when little Mia, a friend of Joe, vanishes from the playground, her past is threatened to be revealed. While Kelly is still worried about what might have happened, Aleema, Mia’s mother, fears for the worst. She never wanted to leave Manchester in the first place, but with her mother-in-law ill, they thought it was the best. And now her daughter is missing. Naomi on the contrast, has always lived there, she knows everything about everybody – at least she thinks so. Even though she is worried about the girl, she is also eager to protect her neighbourhood from foreigners and her lifelong friend who recently moved back will help her.
Bryony Pearce’s psychological thriller incorporates everything I hate about rural or small town life: your neighbours not only eye every step you take and nothing remains private. Gossip is part of everyday life and everybody knows everything about each other. As a newcomer, you will never fit in, the ranks are closed and the locals will speculate and spread rumours without hesitation, especially if you differ. The story is told alternatingly from the three women’s point of view thus illustrating how their “Little Rumours” come to life, are spread and what they do to those they affect.
I totally adored the thriller. First of all, the mystery about the vanished girl is not easy to solve, even though at some point, characters tend to become suspicious, there are several leads all likewise probable. Second, I love to hate those small town characters like Naomi, limited in their world-view they spring at anything unknown and believe themselves right in any respect not perceiving what harm they cause. Third, the female characters could hardly differ more. They are well portrayed, each unique in their struggles and fears and thus, it is easy to follow their line of thoughts. You quickly come to form an opinion about the characters and then, while reading, you have to modify your views since they are more complex than you gave them credit for in the first place.
A suspenseful thriller with some unexpected twists and a modern day witch hunt of the evilest type.