Eight-year-old Billy goes missing one day while out flying his kite. His body is found two days later. Sixteen years later, Billy's older sister, Rose is still blaming herself for his death, believing that she brought his killer into her families' lives. Then one day Rose helps out her elderly neighbour Ronnie by cleaning his house while he is in hospital. In his upstairs spare room, she finds a key piece of evidence that could mean that the man convicted of killing Billy is innocent after all, and the real killer is still out there, possibly very close to home. The Mistake is a gripping thriller by British author K.L. Slater. The subject matter might be distressing to some readers, since it deals with eating disorders, rape, murder, abusive relationships and narcissistic personalities. It's set against the backdrop of a village in Nottinghamshire which has fallen on hard times since the mine that was the major employer in the area closed during the '80s. K.L. Slater really captures the sense of purposelessness and bitterness felt by many of the men in the area, and the lack of hope among many of the young people. Eighteen year old Rose is flattered by the attention of Gareth Farhnam, a man in his twenties, and Gareth is able to use her father's need for a job as a way to manipulate the naive young woman. Gareth's controlling behaviour increases slowly, by degrees, so Rose doesn't realise how much he has taken over her life until it's too late.
The identity of the killer is not too hard to figure out, but it isn't the focal point of the story. The book shifts back and forth between the events leading up to Billy's death and the present day, in which Rose battles an eating disorder and clings to a strict routine just to get through the day. It's a very moving account of a woman's fight to get justice for her brother and try and take back her own power.
The Mistake is a both psychological thriller and a story of survival that is hard to put down. It will probably appeal to fans of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and If you enjoy it you might also like The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney.