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What She Knew: A Novel

What She Knew: A Novel


What She Knew: A Novel

ratings:
4/5 (138 ratings)
Length:
12 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 1, 2015
ISBN:
9780062444622
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother's search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes...

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It's an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.  

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel's newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public's attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent's nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking...

A HarperAudio production.

Publisher:
Released:
Dec 1, 2015
ISBN:
9780062444622
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

Gilly Macmillan is the internationally bestselling author of What She Knew, The Perfect Girl, Odd Child Out, I Know You Know, The Nanny, and To Tell You the Truth. She resides in Bristol, England.

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Reviews

What people think about What She Knew

4.1
138 ratings / 54 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    This one is very gripping! As a parent, also disturbing. Great writing and characterization
  • (5/5)
    “If there’s so much potential for others to judge us wrongly, then how can we be sure that our assessment of them in any way resembles the real person that lies underneath?” (citation pos. 152)ContentRachel Jenner, recently divorced, photographer, loves to go for a walk with her son Ben, eight years old, and their dog Skittle. When he wants to run ahead to go on the rope swing, Skittle on his side, she tries not to listen to her maternal voice and allows it, because it is not far and he knows the way. After a short phone call with her sister, Rachel arrives at the rope – and Ben is not here. He is missing, without any traces. Every day that passes makes the search and the questions more desperate.Theme and GenreThis thriller is about the impact of a case of a missing child on the family, friends and the investigating police. An important topic is the psychological point of view, the feelings of the persons involved. The story also shows the pressure of the public opinion, of journalists, of strangers gathering and sharing their opinions via social media, hate postings and bullying. CharactersRachel sometimes still struggles to get over her divorce. She feels guilty for letting Ben run ahead in the wood and with the public opinion calling her a bad mother almost breaks her down, as well as having to wait for results of the investigation. But she never gives up.DI James Clemo leads the investigation team, knowing that time is important and if the want to find Ben, they first have to find out who took him.Plot and WritingRachel and Jim, beginning with a prolog one year after Ben’s disappearance, tell the captivating story. Each day is a chapter and begins with notes from an OJJDP law report about Missing and Abducted Children, Rachel’s description of the events and Jim who tells his part to the story to his therapist. Together with extracts from the blog, it is this special and brilliant plotting, that makes the story so breathtaking, deeply impressing and thrilling. ConclusionA gripping, unputdownable story and definitely not a book that is closed with the last page, shelved and soon forgotten. An amazing read that remains in the readers thoughts.
  • (4/5)
    I'd give this 4.5 stars if that were an option.

    The story of a boy abducted from the woods, What She Knew is told in alternating sections from the perspectives of the boy's mother and the main investigator on the case.

    It's excellently paced and won't be one of those books where you're pretty sure you know what happens within the first hundred pages and only reading to confirm your hunch. While some of the secondary characters are a bit flat and their storylines seem almost unnecessary in places, the people most central to the storyline are nuanced and relatable. The writing is beautiful and never feels like the author is trying to make you see the story a certain way. The final few chapters are less strong than the book as a whole, but the author wraps this one up without artifice or cliche.
  • (5/5)
    This is a gripping story, from beginning to end!! My only "slight" comment/question would be...how did the "person" who took Ben, do it at the time it was happening? We were never provided with those details but that probably was just a little too difficult to present. Instead we have the incredible depth of what happens to the parents, close friends, and the police force involved in the search for the child. Almost exhaustingly provided......
  • (4/5)
    I had a little bit of a hard time getting into this book at first. The angle of the story just didn't seem to make me want to keep reading. That became nonsense as the book progressed. You are compelled, even if it doesn't seem to be getting anywhere, to keep reading. Gilly Macmillan makes you want to know all of the details about the case.Ben Finch is 8 years old and he and his Mom, Rachel, have taken a Sunday walk through Leigh Woods with their dog Skittles. Ben insists on wanting to run to the tree swing that is just a little ahead. Rachel is a little hesitant, but wants Ben to feel a little of the independence that she feels he should. As Rachel turns the corner at the swing, Ben is nowhere to be found. She is yelling for both him and the dog, but gets no answer. Her world now gets changed. The police are called and there is an investigation and there are many individuals who you think may be the culprit. We are involved, as readers, in that whole scenario. From Rachel's family, Ben's teachers, detectives, etc on, we learn so much about people and the secrets that they keep. So much is revealed about the people surrounding this young boy and we are astounded and shocked, surprised and maybe not so surprised.
  • (3/5)
    Enjoyable.
  • (4/5)
    In Bristol England, Rachel Jenner's momentary inattentiveness leads to the disappearance of her eight year old son, Benedict Finch. The story, which takes place in a little over a week, is told from the alternating points of view of Rachel, a divorced photographer, and DI James Clemo, who is put in charge of the police investigation. Clemo's girlfriend, DC Emma Zhang, is also assisting in the investigation. The author did an excellent job of showing Rachel's terror when she first notices that Ben is missing. You could really feel "the various textures of [her] fear". As the investigation dragged on from one disappointing lead to another, we also got to see the anguish of Rachel's ex-husband and other family members and friends and how their lives were changed forever. This book was really amazingly polished for a first novel. My only quibble was that it was a little too long. I thought that the digressions with Ben's grandmother and the whole James/Emma story broke the tension and were unnecessary distractions that could have been trimmed. Other than that, I liked the book very much and will keep an eye out for the author's next book. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
  • (4/5)
    I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. This did not effect my opinions of the book, or the review itself."Be careful what you assume, is what I'd say to that. Be very careful. I should know."Rachel Jenner's son Ben is missing. This readers know this from the start; Rachel tells us directly. But that is all we truly know.What She Knew explores exactly that-what can we truly ever know, about ourselves, about those we love? Every character has something in their past or present yet to be revealed. If we can lie to others, others can lie to us. While the story is ostensibly the hunt for a missing child, and all the emotional and professional turmoil that entails, it is also the story of what it means to be human, to be family, to be a best friend, to be a mother. It is a cautionary tale to assume nothing.What She Knew is also a suspenseful mystery with a well-done plot twist ending, and a book that utilizes the format of social media and book and newspaper excerpts well. This is a read I would definitely recommend.
  • (5/5)
    Well, the new year is off to a good start for me! I started and finished this book on the first day of 2017. It's hard to believe that this is Gilly Macmillan's first book. I read her second book, The Perfect Girl a little while ago and loved it which made me order What She Knew. Rachel Jenner is walking in the park with her son, Ben when the most unimaginable thing happens. He runs to the rope swing, just out of sight, and disappears. The story is told from Rachel's point of view and also from the point of view of DI James Clemo. As the narrative moves from Rachel to James and back again, you feel like you're in the middle of the investigation and become as vested in the hunt for Ben as they are. Social media is also a character in this book as a blog goes up and the public's attitude shifts from sympathy to suspicion of Rachel. Excellent book and a real page turner for me.
  • (5/5)
    Rachel Jenner is a recent divorcee, navigating the world as a single mother to her son Ben. A leisurely walk in the woods of Bristol Park one Sunday afternoon flips her world upside down when Bed runs ahead to the tree swing down the path, and winds up missing. So begins a tumultuous week where Rachel is forced to examine every relationship in her life while also coming under the microscope herself as her sons disappearance makes national headlines. Life changing secrets are revealed and lies come to light as Rachel races against the clock to find her missing son. This is the first book I've read from Gilly Macmillan and I can promise you it won't be my last (I may or may not have ordered her other novel on Amazon after I finished this one). As any good thriller/suspense book should be, this book was filled with twists and turns, false leads and deception. There are some very startling revelations that I did not see coming which threw some major wrenches in my (many) theories of "who dun it". As a mom myself, this book was particularity gripping and emotional for me. Just the thought of being in Rachel's situation and having one of my children taken from me is enough to send me into anxiety overload. needless to say I flew through all 467 pages needing some sort of resolution to Ben's disappearance. A good plot is nothing without stellar writing and Macmillan delivers. The novel is well written and paced, Rachels emotions scream through the pages, and as a mother, it was gut wrenching. I would definitely recommend this to all you lovers of a good psychological thriller.
  • (3/5)
    This book started out a little slow. I liked it, but it was a little slower than the recent mystery/thriller books I have been reading. At about half way through the book a couple major things happen and it really starts moving. I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded. I really felt like it was really happening and I was reading updates on the blog, social media and news. I can't wait to check out her next book!
  • (3/5)
    At the beginning of this book, Rachel Jenner lets her 8 year old son, Ben run ahead of her in the woods and he disappears. I was a little disappointed with this one. I had read so many wonderful reviews, but the book did not live up to my expectations. The first 200 pages of the book really dragged. I did consider a couple of times possibly not finishing, but a little over halfway into the book the pace picked up. I never did figure out exactly, "what she knew." I am not a big reader or fan of mysterys or thrillers, nor do I have any children of my own, so maybe that's why I just wasn't that crazy about this one. Don't let my review stop you from reading the book because plenty of other people out there just loved it!
  • (4/5)
    A thriller, although it did get chatty in spots, so I wound up skipping paragraphs at a time here and there. But not enough to ruin the story. Who the "SHE" is, in the title, is still not clear to me; perhaps the author meant it as something for the reader to wonder about (not a bad thing). I almost didn't continue after the first couple of chapters, as it is about the disappearance of an 8-yr-old boy. But I kept on, and nothing detailed or cruel was included, just a lot of investigations and possible suspects. A couple surprises along the way startled me in a good way, and the resolution was not all cleared up until the very end. Just the way it should be for me.
  • (4/5)
    4 1/2 stars"In the eyes of others, we're often not who we imagine ourselves to be." So begins Rachel's story of the tense investigation of the abduction of her 8-year-old son one year ago which was launched with a disastrous press conference. Rachel deeply regrets the mistakes she made; DI Jim Clemo is still haunted by his. In a case complicated by numerous potential suspects, including Rachel, Gilly Macmillan explores the effects of guilt, trust, and social media surrounding the abduction. A gripping combination of police investigation and psychological suspense with plenty of twists and turns. The author uses dual 1st person perspectives as well as social media posts and transcripts of news reports, a therapist session, etc. Chapters begin with excerpts of facts/stats/info about child abduction in general.
  • (3/5)
    Falls flat. Unsatisfying
  • (3/5)
    All over I liked the book, but it had a slow start and I struggled reading it. The last third of it got going into a real page turner. I had a sickish feeling as I read, thrillers often do that. Much of the descriptions seemed more than I wanted to read, but occasionally she would really get into Rachel or Jim's head so well that I loved her descriptions.
  • (3/5)
    This is a realistic page-turner...almost too realistic. You feel as though you are in the middle of the investigation...complete with blogs and Facebook posts. I gained a great deal of sympathy for the family to which this unimaginable crime has happened. It had a good story line and excellent characters but was just a little too long and became bogged down at times with all the transcripts. While there was little new ground broken with the missing child scenario... when it is done reasonably well...as this one is...you have a very reliable book.
  • (4/5)
    Quick review of the audiobook edition: Not only did they choose a nice voice for the narrator, but the story itself is woven well too. One day, as a mother is out for a normal walk with her young son, the boy disappears seemingly without a trace. As the subsequent investigation unfolds, an unfortunate but not wholly unexpected set of events ensues, leading to a series of questions. Could the mother, Rachel, still reeling from the shock of an unexpected divorce and stewing in jealousy and anger toward her ex and his new wife, really have done something to her son? Will long-buried secrets hold the key to finding the boy?In a narrative that simultaneously weaves together an ever-changing tapestry of suspicion and twists and turns while also respecting the reader enough so as to render the content believable at every turn, with the loose ends essentially being tied off in the end, this is a book that definitely keeps you guessing. It kept me hooked right to the very end, and the systematic counting of time with a child missing was fraught with an undeniable tension. It's definitely a very good book, and one that is certainly well worth the read.
  • (3/5)
    In general I liked this book but I did feel there were lots of information explored that had little to do with the story. I understand it was done to keep the reader guessing but I found it to be distracting. This is one of the few mysteries that has kept me guessing right up until the end. Very emotional from a parent's perspective.
  • (4/5)
    Good debut novel.Story of 8 year old Ben Finch who goes missing while he is out a walk in the woods with his Mum.The book revolves around Rachel (Bens Mother) and the policeman Jim Clemo who is desperate to solve this case.
  • (4/5)
    Rachel Jenner is out in the woods with her eight year old son Ben. Ben wants to run in front and Rachel agrees reluctantly. Next thing she she knows is that Ben has gone and she doesn't know where. DI Jim Clemo is on the case of the missing child. This is there events of what happened. Good mother or bad mother, good cop or bad cop, thats for the reader to decide. Decided I was too at the end of the story.This is the harrowing tale of a little boy who is taken while out with his mom. The story is told from the points of view of Rachel and Jim. Also there is a lot of blogs, transcripts and everything else that brings the book right up to date. I really enjoyed this debut thriller and I was on the edge of my seat as the search was drawing a close. I was drawn straight in and really wanted to see what happened. It does ask the question good mother or bad, and would I have done anything different myself. It did remind me of when my lads were children and how I found it difficult to say it wsd ok to play a little way from home.My only niggle in the book was the big family secret reveal. I really felt it was unnecessary to the story and it didn't add anything extra to the story.However the book was a cracking read and I really enjoyed it.
  • (5/5)
    Book was amazing, if you are a paranoid single mother be warned. Had me over analyzing my my and my sons life. DEFINITELY kept me on my toes.
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed this book, I also felt real emotion, cried with it too. We as a society are very quick to pass judgement. I love the way it was written.
  • (4/5)
    I was so sure I knew who did it! I was wrong...
  • (5/5)
    Griping, heart wrenching story. This book should be made into a movie.
  • (5/5)
    Another one that I could NOT STOP READING. This debut novel for Gilly MacMillan was terrific! She gave the reader just enough rope to hang themselves throughout the book!

    The ending.. Not a spit spot done type ending, but acceptable lol. I started dreading the ending when I was 100 pages out. PHEW!
  • (4/5)
    Multiple narrator, emotionally taut, multi-layered story of 8 yr old Ben Finch's kidnapping within minutes of leaving his mummy's side (Bristol, England family) - a simple Sunday afternoon outing with the family dog to a popular park with trails throughout woodsy terrain turns into every parent's nightmare. As the police investigation heats up, the emotional tension continues to be raised via the two key narrators: DI Jim Clemo, whose deep desire to "do this right" (his first major leadership investigation, chosen by a "Jane Tennison" type DCI Corrine Fraser) )eventually leads him into depression and insomnia. The other main narrator: Rachel Jenner, newly divorced mother whose grief, guilt, and absolute drive to find her son has her alternately drifting into a sleep-deprived stupor and propelling herself into panicked rash actions. The slow "reveal" of several of the main characters' back story was skillfully done; the intermittent police procedural details added to the foreshadowing and pacing, and of course - the kidnapper isn't discovered until the last pages, oh my and what a shock. Enjoyed this thoroughly and read it in two or three big gulps.
  • (4/5)
    This book was more emotionally sensitive than I typically expect suspense novels to be, but it really was very thoughtful and interesting.
  • (2/5)
    It was just ok. I would say it was a waste of 12 hours. I kept listening hoping it would gain some suspense. It didn’t .
  • (5/5)
    Rachel lets her eight-year old son Ben run ahead of her in the woods and he disappears. The story is told through Rachel's narration looking back, from the perspective of the DI working the case and also via counselling sessions he is later required to have, as well as emails and excerpts from a blog. The shifting of perspectives serves to show how the police plug away even when it seems to Rachel as if they are doing nothing. Rachel's despair and anger are well-portrayed, although the negative press she receives formed for me an over-large part of the narrative - it became repetitive and it was hard for me to believe that she would have received no sympathy at all. I liked the fact that we had no chapter's from Ben's perspective, which meant that we were in the dark about his fate and didn't have to dwell too much on what a small child might be suffering. I liked the various red herrings which were put to bed at various stages and I found the book to be a page turner and truly suspenseful, albeit a little longer than necessary.However, I didn't really warm to Rachel or to the DI. I don't quite grasp why he felt so guilty about what happened: I anticipated his relationship with Emma and the crisis there would cloud his judgement or mean that he overlooked something, but that was not the case. It looked as though there was some important reason for John and Rachel's divorce, but that came to nothing. I don't understand why John was attacked so viciously and by whom. I thought the conclusion was realistic and thoughtful. Highly recommended.