William Morrow Pub
Oct 26th, 2021
The Unheard by Nicci French, the pseudonym for husband and wife writing team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, is a gripping psychological thriller. Anyone who is a mother can relate to this story where the emphasis is a mother knowing and understanding their child.
“Sometimes children can be unreliable witnesses as they try to tell their mother something. Poppy, the daughter, cannot express in words so she tells Tess something is wrong with her behavior of clinginess, bed-wetting, acting out, and cussing. Three-year-old children are not articulate. They cannot describe what happened to them. Children think differently about the world.”
Tess Moreau is the mother of three-year-old Poppy. She and her partner, Jason, have gone their separate ways and have agreed on a custody timeline. But something has gone very wrong after Poppy spends a night with Jason, his current wife, and her brother who is living with them. The child is clingy, wetting her bed, cussing, and drawing pictures of death. None of these behaviors were evident before. Tess goes into overdrive as she tries to figure out if Poppy witnessed a murder, saw an act of violence, or was abused. As Poppy continues to act out, Tess goes to the police, convinced a crime was committed, but has no evidence. She is frustrated because no one believes her, not the police, her friends, her mother, her current boyfriend, her estranged partner, and school officials.
“Poppy changed. Before her trauma she is bright, connected, eager, energetic, with a rich imagination. She thinks the world is on her side. But then she becomes violent and aggressive and seems to have an intuitive sense that something is wrong.”
Readers sympathize with Tess, understanding her feeling of helplessness. She experiences every parent’s nightmare of a young child. Her daughter does not yet have the words to express what was upsetting her and could only try to do so through drawings and behavior. But a mother knows her daughter. Tess knows something is wrong, and she is determined to find the truth because she understands more than anyone that something is seriously wrong. The reader takes a journey with Tess as they try to figure out what happened to Poppy, as suspects pile up.
“Tess is fragile, a single mother, at times over-protective, fearful, vulnerable, and anxious. As the story progresses, she becomes a mother who will do anything to save her child. Tess takes a journey and finds self-realization. She becomes strong and realizes her own self-worth. But she is put through hell and back. All the men in her life are manipulative. Somehow their masculinity has gone awry. They use her vulnerability against her. She starts to feel she is surrounded by illusions and wonders who to trust.”
This story will have anyone who reads it sharing Tess’s emotions of anger, fears, suspicions, and worries. Just when someone thinks they know who the culprit is the authors throw another twist, keeping them guessing and the tension elevated.