Updated: Mar 30, 2020
I was lucky enough to receive a digital review copy of The First Mistake by Sandie Jones, but I also won a paperback copy from a bookstagram giveaway. I chose to read this one on my Kindle because I found it easier to read in bed. It was a page turner and kept me reading until my eyes were blurry with sleep. The First Mistake is a domestic thriller set in England. The main character, Alice, owns a design firm where she works along side her husband, Nathan. Alice's first husband and love of her life, Tom, passed away tragically, leaving her and their daughter behind. Shortly after his death, Alice meets her current husband and ends up having another daughter. To say her heart was broken is an understatement and she constantly compares Nathan to Tom.
Alice is a complex character who seems manic at times, but for very good reason. One day her life was ordinarily perfect and the next her husband was missing, presumed dead. Alice suffered a severe mental breakdown which lead her to spend a portion of time in a psychiatric ward, which strangely enough is where she met Nathan (hmmm.... because meeting your next husband shortly after your last husband passed away, and you had a mental breakdown and were forced to be committed to a psych ward is totally normal....I was suspicious of Nathan from the start.) Alice struggles to hold it together while she runs her design firm, but slowly erodes day by day as she starts to suspect that Nathan is having an affair. The inkling initially forms when she finds a random earring in the family vehicle she shares with Nathan. Could this be one of her daughter's friend's? One of her friend's? Alice runs through the scenarios of who could possibly be the owner of the earring, but nothing seems logical. Nathan travels for his position with her design firm and recently returned from a meeting in Japan regarding a potential investment for Alice's company, which also happens to be a huge investment that Nathan seems adamant that Alice should commit to. Suspicion is still rising in the back of Alice's mind, so she rummages through Nathan's suitcase and finds a hotel receipt with two massages, two meals, and several drinks. Alice's mind runs wild with the possibilities. Her world feels like it is caving in as she starts to reason that her first husband left her and her daughter and now her second husband is going to be next.
The First Mistake has a strong female friendship presence with Alice and her closest friend, Beth. Their daughters are best friends and they naturally met during school drop off and pick up. Beth confided that she has not seen the father of her daughter since she found out she was pregnant. One evening, Beth confides more about her ex and they both discover that it could possibly be the same man Alice was madly in love with, who tragically passed away, Tom. Alice's manic worries start to spiral as her world crashes down on her. The First Mistake is split into three parts, the first is Alice's current life with Nathan and her suspicions of an affair, the second is Beth's prior passionate relationship with Tom and how she found herself to be pregnant and single, and the third is back to Alice and Beth's current life and how their paths intersect with their relationships.
Needless to say, I was initially suspicious of Nathan. He swooped into Alice's life months after Tom passes away, meets her while she is committed to a psych ward, works for her company, and is incessant about Alice investing in a costly venture several countries away. Things did not add up for me, but I strangely did not predict the plot twist with Nathan. I thought I had the book pegged half way through, but was still thrown by the twist. I did predict the ending, but that was only a few chapters that wrapped up the book and wasn't enough to influence my overall opinion.
Overall, I thought The First Mistake by Sandie Jones was a fun, fast paced domestic thriller that kept me questioning reality. I really enjoyed the aspect of Alice's two marriages and how her suspicions of Nathan's affair played out. I tend to read thrillers frequently and I was still surprised by the plot twist. It wasn't a "holy sh*t, what just happened?!" twist, but more of a surprising "No way, now this makes sense!" twist. Any twist that I do not predict, is a good twist for me. Sandie's writing is clear and fast paced. I tend to like more character development, but that is something you do not see often in the thriller genre. Alice's character came off manic and unhinged, but towards the end of the book, the reader uncovered more of what was going on and Alice came off as more of a reasonable lover scorn. I liked that her character was redeemed because I think a lot of leading ladies in the thriller genre come off as psychologically distraught or like damsels in distress. Alice's character took a turn for the better in the third part of the book. Not all female characters need to be psychologically unhinged, so thank you Sandie Jones!
The format of the book also made it read very smoothly. I feel that books that are broken up into parts or sections read much quicker and feel less daunting. Overall, I rated The First Mistake by Sandie Jones as a solid ★★★★ thriller. I highly recommend it if you like domestic thrillers with a psychological plot twist. Very fun read and I felt grateful to receive a copy to read and review. Thank you to Net Galley and Minotaur Books for the free advanced copy of The First Mistake by Sandie Jones, in exchange for an honest review.