Hannah grew up in foster care and has no family. At 36, she has begun to think she will never find love. Then her best friend persuades her to try and online dating app, and to her surprise, she finds the man of her dreams. Alex is a handsome lawyer and the two of them like the same music and have the same dreams of a home with a yellow Labrador and three kids. He seems too good to be true. Hannah's friends worry that her relationship with Alex is moving too quickly. Meanwhile, Alex tells Hannah she is too trusting with her friends. Hannah starts to notice small things that make her believe she is being watched, but it is it Alex, her ex-boyfriend Tom, or someone else altogether?
Content warning: Drug overdose, child abuse and a whole lot of gaslighting.
First Date is a suspenseful psychological thriller by Sue Watson, author of Our Little Lies and The Empty Nest. The plot moves fairly slowly to begin with, but picks up the pace towards the end. By contrast, Hannah and Alex's relationship proceeds speedily from the first date, and some other reviewers have complained that Hannah was naive or stupid to ignore the many red flags that were there from the start. However, I actually applauded her for using her training as a social worker to recognise and shut down some of Alex's manipulative tactics.
The subject matter has been pretty well-trodden, but even so, the story didn't go quite where I thought it was going. I'm trying to avoid spoilers here, but things are not quite as they seem in this absorbing novel. However, the ending isn't an out of nowhere 'the butler did it' kind of revelation. All the pieces of the puzzle are there for the observant reader, which makes things much more satisfying.
First Date is a psychological thriller about a vulnerable woman looking for a place to belong. It's a quick read and will appeal to fans of books like Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl or The Apartment by K.L. Slater.
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Bookouture, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.