Book Review: The First Mistake by Sandie Jones
The First Mistake by Sandie Jones is an addictively readable new domestic suspense about a wife, her husband, and the woman who is supposedly her best friend.
I was blown away by Sandie Jones’ first book, The Other Woman. I’m a jaded reader that likes to think I’ve seen every twist there is, but I didn’t see the twist coming in The Other Woman, and the book’s female empowerment angle really gave me hope. Speaking of hopes, I had high ones going into The First Mistake, and I wasn’t disappointed. Jones writes relatable women like nobody’s business, and she does the same here with Alice, who has turned her life around after her husband Tom’s disappearance nearly a decade ago. Now she’s married to Nathan, has her own successful design business, AT Designs, and two beautiful daughters, Sophie and Olivia. In fact, they’re on the cusp of landing an extremely lucrative contract in Japan, but there’s just one hitch:
“It’s not too late if you want to come with me, “ he’d said gently, taking me in his arms.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I had to pull away, my heart hammering through my chest. “Of course I can’t, I’ve got the children to think about.”
“Your mum would have them at the drop of a hat, you know she would.”
My mind had frantically run through what I’d have to go through to get on that plane with him. My breath caught in my throat as panic crept through every nerve fibre, tingling the tips of y fingers.
“We’ve discussed this,” I’d snapped.
“I’m just saying there’s still time,” he’d said as he pulled away from me. “That’s all.”
“I’ll see you on Wednesday,” I replied. “Enjoy yourself.”
That convo takes place between Alice and Nathan right before he jets off to Japan to finalize the deal, but Alice is still haunted by the memory of Tom’s disappearance while on a work trip where he went skiing and never returned. The thought of jetting off to some far-flung place with the possibility of her not returning to her kids paralyzes Alice. It’s also putting a strain on her marriage to Nathan.
However, when the terms of the deal change, Alice is offered the chance to take a leap of faith that could change her whole life, but she still clings to the memory of Tom and the company they’d built. Luckily, she has the support of her best friend Beth, a single mom whose economic circumstances are different from Alice, but who has always offered a shoulder to cry on. Alice will need that shoulder when she finds an earring in Nathan’s car. It’s not hers and it doesn’t belong to one of Sophie’s friends. Is Nathan cheating on her? Surely not. He would never.
No wife wants to think that her husband is cheating on her, but when Alice finds a profile of Tom still active on Facebook, with a recent post no less (not creepy at all), she goes into panic mode. Tom is dead. He’s been dead for a decade. Someone is playing a cruel prank, and Alice is determined to get to the bottom of it.
Soon after this revelation, Jones switches from Alice’s narrative to Beth’s, who shares the story of how she met the father of her 8-year-old daughter Millie, who is Olivia’s age. Up until now, Beth has been a peripheral character, although there have been a few instances where she’s acted strangely.
It’s hard to juggle multiple narratives, whether they’re first-person or third, but Jones handles it like a pro, and eagle-eyed readers will be keeping an eye on each strange occurrence, hoping to guess just what the hell is going on. I thought I had It figured out, but I didn’t. Not even close. Jones tricked me in The Other Woman and she blew any theory I had to smithereens in The First Mistake. Trust and security are at the forefront of this absorbing, relentless tale, and it asks the question: Do we really ever truly know our significant others? Do you?
Carve out some time for this one, because once you start, you won’t want to put it down. With only two books, Jones has established herself as a master craftswoman of domestic suspense. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.