Next of Kin

HQ: HarperCollins UK. Sept. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9780008538323. pap. $16.99. THRILLER
At 18, Leila Syed became the sole protector of her younger sister Yasmin. She worked multiple jobs while completing her education; now she’s a partner in a London-based architectural firm. But she still overprotects Yasmin. When her brother-in-law Andrew calls asking if she can drop off their three-year-old child Max at school en route to work, she says yes. She’s always said yes. On the way, another call. Her office needs her immediately: critical blueprints are locked in her office, needed for a meeting with a client this morning. She drives to work, parks, runs upstairs. She frees the documents and settles down for a few hours’ work. Three hours later, another call. Andrew. The nursery school is asking where Max is. Leila gasps with horror, heads downstairs. She finds Max in her car, dead due to hyperthermia. When she’s put on trial for gross negligence manslaughter, this high-tension story takes off.
VERDICT Abdullah’s third legal thriller (after Truth Be Told) is crisply written, with a plot that never lags, well-written characters, and a heartrending backstory. The novel is marred by the introduction of totally new information and an unprepared-for plot twist at the end, which lessens an otherwise fine tale.
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