Half-Norwegian half-American author Alex Dahl has written a tense family drama set in the small town of Sandefjord on the Norwegian south coast. If you shun reading translations this is a great opportunity to read some Nordic Noir written in English.
Seven-year-old Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. She wanted to stay overnight and Lucia´s mother Elisa drove by to drop her overnight things round and kiss her goodnight. That was the last time she saw her daughter.
The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No Lucia and absolutely no traces of the family that Elisa had visited the previous day. It was meant to be her little daughter’s first sleepover. Now it’s an abduction.
In Playdate a seemingly average, seemingly happy family is thrown into every parents worst nightmare – a child that has gone missing. Who has taken Elisa´s and Fredrik´s daughter? Is she still alive or maybe she is dead?
Time passes but there are absolutely no traces of the little girl. Eventually it becomes apparent that Lucia’s kidnapping must have been meticulously planned, but why just her? Do either Elisa or Fredrik know more than they are letting on? Obviously both have secrets in their past that they would like to keep buried, but some day they will have to choose…
Womanhood and motherhood
Alex Dahl has written a gripping story with a superb plot, told from five points of view – Elisa, Lucia herself, the kidnapper, a prisoner – and Selma, a journalist. The changing perspectives gradually reveal the backstory and increase the tension. As in her previous novels The Boy at the Door and The Heart Keeper the author continues to explore the human wish to create the perfect life. And the willingness to do everything to keep up the facade. Her characters are intriguing and she writes insightful about the challenges of being both a woman and a mother. Thus, Playdate is a highly suspenseful psychological thriller without too much violence and gore.