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Thursday 6 June 2024

‘The Dinner Party’ by Rebecca Heath

Published by Head of Zeus,
6 June 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-80454610-9 (PB)

This is a gripping and compelling mystery dealing with a 40 year old cold case of a missing child.  The story is partly revealed through a Podcast by someone connected with the original case.  The main characters are Amanda Callaghan the sister of the missing baby and her daughters Billie and Evie.  The incident happened at a neighbour’s dinner party one Summer evening in Australia in 1979.  The four couples at the party are all interviewed both at the time and at a follow up investigation 25 years later, but all deny any knowledge of any wrong doing. 

English readers will inevitably be reminded of the Madeleine McCann case which haunted us through newspaper accounts more than a decade ago.  Megan - the stolen baby - becomes the focus of her sister's life after her mother commits suicide and her father enters a nursing home.  The family are close but there are feelings of tension as Amanda is obsessive about finding her sister and when a woman comes to her door claiming to be Megan the stress particularly for Billie reaches a high. 

Although this woman has several 'proofs' of her claim and Amanda is convinced and thrilled at finding her lost sister Billie remains suspicious and sets out to investigate this woman's claims.  It is a roller coaster of an investigation, and the Callaghan family are forced to acknowledge that each of the neighbours - some of whom are still living close by - have something to hide.  The conclusion is both a shock and also has a sense of inevitability.  This is a really good read, and I can thoroughly recommend it as an enjoyable Summer Holiday book.
Reviewer: Toni Russell

Rebecca Heath studied science at university, worked in hospitality and teaching, but she always carved out time to write. She lives in Adelaide, Australia, halfway between the city and the sea with her husband, three children and a much-loved border collie. She spent her childhood summers at a remote beach not unlike where the novel is set. This is her debut adult novel.


Toni Russell is a retired teacher who has lived in London all her life and loves the city.  She says, ‘I enjoy museums, galleries and the theatre but probably my favourite pastime is reading.  I found myself reading detective fiction almost for the first time during lockdown and have particularly enjoyed old fashioned detective fiction rather than the nordic noir variety.  I am a member of a book club at the local library and have previously attended literature classes at our local Adult Education Centre.  I am married with three children and five grandchildren. 

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