Audiobook Review: The First Mistake by Sandie Jones
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
The First Mistake by Sandie Jones
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (June 11, 2019)
Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
Author Information: Website | Twitter
Narrator: Nathalie Buscombe
You know it’s summer when there’s a gazillion interesting thrillers coming out and I want to read them all, and with The First Mistake being about the possibility of an unfaithful husband with a best friend involved, it looked to me like the perfect guilty pleasure beach read.
At the center of this novel is Alice, married to her second husband Nathan with whom she is running an interior design business and raising two daughters in their beautiful home. When her first husband Tom died in a skiing accident, Alice was devastated and became lost in her grief. Tom was the love of her life and losing him sent her into a tailspin so that she was committed into a mental health institution and was left with bad anxiety for years. But then, Nathan came along. Kind, patient and loving Nathan, who helped her get back on her feet. With his help, Alice was able to get her life back on track again and keep running the company that she started with Tom.
And then one day, Nathan needs to fly to Japan to negotiate a possible deal with a vendor. He wants Alice to go with him, since as the owner of the company, she should be part of the decision-making process. But still feeling haunted by her first husband’s death, Alice isn’t prepared to jet off to a faraway place, leaving her girls behind. Taking solace in her conversations with her best friend Beth, Alice reveals how she thinks her anxiety has been affecting her relationship with Nathan, and worse, she has been noticing some suspicious signs that he might be having an affair: an unfamiliar earring found in his car, dubious charges on his hotel bill in Japan, flowers addressed to another woman…. And then another blow: Alice stumbles upon evidence that her first husband Tom might not have been the man she thought he was. Dealing with possible betrayal from both the present and the past, Alice feels herself starting to lose control again and doesn’t know who she can trust.
I’m guessing cheating spouses isn’t exactly an uncommon theme when it comes to domestic suspense, though I appreciated how Sandie Jones tried to tackle it from a different direction. Not going to go into specifics, of course, though I will say she leads the reader to think one thing, and then pulls the rug from under us when we least suspect. Most of this book is told from Alice’s perspective, though when we get to the surprise POV, that’s when the plot thickens, as they say. That said, the story felt a bit far-fetched at times, pushing the limits of believability—and you really had to buy into the characters or else many of their actions will feel forced.
Speaking of which, as the protagonist, Alice holds her own marvelously, though I think she’s a tough character to relate to until you progress far enough in the book to get the full picture of who she is. Both Alice and her best friend Beth have been damaged by certain events in their past, and it shows in the way they approach their problems. I didn’t find either them to be all that likeable, though I also believe this is by design. While it was difficult to connect with them on an intellectual level (there were so many things I would not have done if I had been in their shoes) I was still nonetheless able to understand where their motivations were coming from.
I also enjoyed the second half of the novel a lot more than the first, which is not surprising given the way this mystery was structured. Once we get the second POV, I think that’s when the dam broke and everything started coming together. Of course, the author also saves a bunch of earth-shattering surprises for the final few chapters, when the shocking twists and revelations just didn’t seem to end. It would have been nice if the pacing had been better balanced, because I found the first half of the book to be somewhat of a slow burn, though at the end of the day, I agree that for a thriller it’s best to go out with a bang.
All told, The First Mistake was a quick and entertaining thriller, and I wish I could have provided a lot more detail in my review, but when it comes to this genre that’s almost impossible without revealing any spoilers. As always, it’s best to go into these types of books blind if you’re curious! I had a lot of fun with this one, and I would recommend it if you’re looking for a light and easy thriller-suspense to kick back with this summer.
Audiobook Comments: I think it would have been more effective and mysterious had they gone with two narrators for novel, but nevertheless, Nathalie Buscombe did a fantastic job as narrator. Even when the rapidly fluctuating emotions of the characters presented a bit of a challenge, I think she handled the voices well and made them feel convincing.
Great, now I need to know how she pulls the rug out. Ok, so I guess the first did not cheat, but the second guy, oh I do not know! Must listen
Not gonna tell 🙂
Excellent review, Mogsy! 🙂 Sounds like a good thriller.
Thank you! It was indeed quite entertaining!
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I bet she killed her first husband in a fit of passionate rage and everything that follows is all in her head while drugged up to her eyeballs at an asylum.
Mystery solved! (and I won’t even charge anyone any money to read that either)
LOL, no not quite, but your idea would make a great book – I’d read it! 😀
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Yeah, I was trying for the most implausible thing I could think of, just in case 😉
I do love mysteries where that spouse you loved so much turns out to be completely different than you thought! Ha ha, this sounds like fun.
There’s definitely some shenanigans going on here, and hint: it’s not so much an unreliable narrator as an unreliable best friend 😉
yeah it’s difficult not to reveal too much but it is nice to have a good thriller
Yes, that’s the hardest part about writing a thriller review!
Excellent review and yes this kind of story is a little bit tricky to review and not spoil everything! Some narrators can do different voices wonderfully (The Poppy War’s narrator, Zoe something is a prime example) but I often wish they would use different narrators too 😉
I looked up the narrator for The Poppy War – Emily Woo Zeller, I know what you mean! She’s amazing!
Excellent review. I like that the author tries a different direction with this book instead of revisiting the same tropes. It definitely does sound like something you could pleasantly listen to by the beach though!
I think thrillers must make perfect summer beach reading, that’s probably why the all come out right around now, now that I’m thinking about it. Even if this one is only okay, it’s pretty short so maybe worth the investment, I’ll have to keep it in mind. 🙂
Okay so I’m on hold for it at the library—81 on 6 copies, ahahahaha. Well, I’ll get to it eventually. 😀
Maybe she’s an unreliable narrator – drum roll……
Drat – I have to know.
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