Playing Nice by J.P. Delaney | A slow-burn suspense book!

«Playing Nice» is my second book by J.P. Delaney. Last year I found one of his books – «The Girl Before» at the local thrift bookshop. Surprisingly, I read it a few days after the purchase [which never happens!] and even though I wasn’t head over heels for it, I still enjoyed it.

When I saw that he was publishing a new book this year, I of course immediately requested it and was very lucky to get approved. That being said, «Playing Nice» didn’t blow my mind either. J.P. Delaney’s books seem to be a very quiet sort of mystery. There wasn’t anything particularly thrilling about it.  I didn’t stay up all night trying to finish this book. However, it was still entertaining in its own way.

goodreads blurb:

Pete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete’s son, Theo, isn’t actually his son–he is the Lamberts’, switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and his wife, Lucy. For Pete, his partner Maddie, and the little boy they’ve been raising for the past two years, life will never be the same again.

The two families, reeling from the shock, take comfort in shared good intentions, eagerly entwining their very different lives in the hope of becoming one unconventional modern family. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an official investigation that unearths some disturbing questions about the night their children were switched. How much can they trust the other parents–or even each other? What secrets are hidden behind the Lamberts’ glossy front door? Stretched to the breaking point, Pete and Maddie discover they will each stop at nothing to keep their family safe.

They are done playing nice

Thank you Netgalley and Quercus Books for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.

Pete Riley and his partner Maddie just recently had their child [Theo] under very stressful and scary circumstances. Theo was born prematurely and had to be rushed to the NICU [The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit] right after birth. The doctor’s prognosis wasn’t very positive, as Theo’s brain was oxygen-deprived for quite some time. 

That was 2 years ago. Theo is now two years old. He is a healthy, active little boy. Pete, who decided to go freelance after Theo’s birth, is his primary caretaker, and the day we meet him started like any other normal day. However, his whole life was turned upside down when he met Miles Lambert, Theo’s real father. 

1 – The story based on switched-at-birth children was such an interesting one to follow! As this is all mentioned in the blurb and in the first couple of pages, I don’t consider it a spoiler. My main complaint when reading thrillers is that they don’t surprise me anymore. It feels like after reading so many books in the same genre, I kinda saw it all. I’m sure many of you can relate. But J.P. Delaney always finds new stories to explore. I was pleasantly surprised by a new plotline, something I haven’t seen being brought up before. 

2 – There are certain thrillers that will make your heart pound (*cough* Megan Miranda *cough) and then there are others that won’t increase your heart rate but that are still fascinating to read. I’d call them the slow and calm thrillers (if that is even a thing). J.P. Delaney books (the two I read so far) are definitely on the slower side, but that doesn’t make them any worse than all others, instead, it makes them different. 

I love to read a slower mystery / suspense novel from time to time, but my allegiance usually lays with faster-paced and more thrilling stories. 

3 – The only downfall, for me, was the lack of truly interesting characters. Pete, Maddie, Miles, Lucy – all of them had so much potential. And I agree that the author did explore their personalities, but I wish he’d go even further. I wish there was more surprising revelations, because as much as I liked the story itself, the characters were all very predictable. J.P. Delaney’s attempt to confuse the readers wasn’t that successful, and from the very beginning, I kinda knew how the story would end.

My rating:

Have you read any other J.P. Delaney books? I’m intrigued by his novels and will probably try to read more in the future to see if there is one that really speaks to me. Overall, this was a very well-executed suspense novel (I wouldn’t call it a thriller), which might appeal to many readers. 

I’d love to know what your favorite thriller is! Let me know in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “Playing Nice by J.P. Delaney | A slow-burn suspense book!

  1. Ah, this one definitely gives me the ‘calm thriller’ vibes just by looking at the cover 😅 Sorry this wasn’t more of a shocker. I always find it hard to get invested in mysteries/thrillers when the characters aren’t compelling! Great review though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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