“In the Welsh town of Rhosddraig, a few days after Guy Fawkes Night, a man walking his dog uncovers the charred remains of a human body. D.I. Evan Glover, eagerly anticipating his upcoming retirement, travels to the town with D.S. Liz Stanley, newly arrived from England. What they eventually uncover are layers of lies, secrets, and misunderstandings behind the closed doors of the idyllic town. Much of the action is set in and around the Dragon’s Head Pub, run by a single mom, her sardonic mother, and her teenage daughter. The Wrong Boy is a well-told novel of suspense written by a Welsh-born author.” Steve Steinbock, The Jury Box, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
“With two successful series and a few collections of novellas, some may view Cathy Ace’s decision to release a stand-alone psychological suspense novel as a strange – and potentially risky – move, but not too many pages into The Wrong Boy skeptics will realize this is a novel she was destined to write. While it does skew a bit darker than her more traditional – bordering on cozy – offerings, there is nothing gratuitous in The Wrong Boy that should off-put Cathy Ace’s existing fans.
The Wrong Boy is very much the story of a place – Rhosddraig. The sanctity of this locale is shattered when the remains of a body are found in one of the most remote settings around the hamlet…The Wrong Boy takes many twists before any type of resolution becomes possible. Just when readers feel they have figured out a part of the puzzle, a new development alters the framework and other possibilities present themselves. Structurally complex, Cathy Ace navigates readers through the six-month timespan of the novel skillfully while maintaining the suspense generated by the multiple tangled webs amongst the central players. If ever there were any doubt about the importance of “voice” within a novel, The Wrong Boy would be a perfect case study to verify it. Cathy Ace wields five distinctive points of view to tell this tale.
The ambiance of Rhosddraig is another important component within this novel. The Welsh coastline and inhabitants, while foreign to many readers, will immediately feel comfortable and familiar. Because it is a culture with such a long history, the superstitions and beliefs of its people sway the reactions and options of even modern generations. Cathy Ace uses this to her advantage…” Kristopher Zgorski, BOLO Books
“This terrifically written story leads up to an ending that was absolutely chilling and turned anything I had been thinking totally inside out. Part police procedural and part family drama, the book sets readers on a very unique journey. Tragic, eerie, and dark, the only light brought by two distinct characters. The Wrong Boy was different from anything I have read of late and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a psychological mind twister.” Escape With Dollycass 5/5 stars
“The best part of a psychological thriller for me is watching the unfolding revelations of the characters, especially when the protagonist or another character is an unreliable narrator, and either unaware of her/his shortcomings and failings and motives, or simply not confiding in the reader (or both are true). So I delighted in the twisty ways that THE WRONG BOY played out; the reader goes along thinking one version is true, then smack! another version (as interpreted by unreliable narrator), then yet another, another, and so forth… THE WRONG BOY is an excellent psychological suspense thriller, set in a stunning location with eons of history, ingrown characters, and a background on which play out the "normal" human emotions and motives, and quite a few not so "normal."” Mallory Hearts Cozies 5/ 5 stars
“Spanning a realistic timeline and told in multiple yet seamless perspectives, this is a slow-burning and deeply twisted mystery that packs a powerful punch. A compelling array of discussions into mother-daughter relationships, generational insolence, obsession, and dueling investigative techniques opens up through the strong dialogue and each character's internal conversation. The author's deft storytelling created not just an unsettling and suspenseful read, but a masterful character study on family dysfunction and the unrelenting nature of law enforcement…You quickly discover that hardly anyone is being honest with each other let alone with themselves. Everyone has something to hide and very few of these characters have any insight into their own shortcomings, so it certainly becomes quite difficult to trust anyone or predict where the story is going to go. This definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and the pages flying!” That’s What She’s Reading 5/5 stars
“I was intrigued by the blurb for this book and I have to say within the first few pages I was hooked! I loved the layout of this story and the chapters and page breaks for the different characters so I got to see their thoughts, I really enjoy that style of book as I feel that the plot can be kept punchy and it keeps you guessing until the end when the different plot lines and angles all come together. I thought that the characters were excellent, they were very well developed, worked incredibly well together and they helped the story flow brilliantly. The story does have a lot of characters but the author doesn’t confuse the story and I thought it was really easy to follow. I thought the ending was excellent and the whole thing was very well executed. Five stars from me, a thrilling and entertaining read, well written with a gripping plot and excellent characters – very highly recommended!!” Donna’s Book Blog 5/5 stars
“At its heart, this is the story of three women…and their family story is entwined with the story of the village itself… the ending is really quite a revelation – to say the climax is dramatic would, I think, be an understatement! Cathy Ace has written a very engaging combination of police procedural and family drama...Deftly plotted, with engaging characters, and a bewitching sense of place,” The Shelf of Unread Books
“The Wrong Boy is an intriguing book. I’ve read some of Cathy Ace’s fiction before so I thought I knew what to expect. But I was wrong. Though the setting – a picturesque little village on the Gower peninsula in South Wales – might signal ‘cosy crime’ what we have here is anything but. From the condition of the burned bones discovered in the early chapters, to the family dynamics of the characters, this is something much darker. And something – as I discovered at 1.15am – much harder to put down.
We’re presented with some very engaging characters, notably retiring DI Evan Glover. (By which I’m not referring to his being backward in coming forward but to his being two days away from leaving ‘the job’ at the novel’s outset.) Though we’ve seen supposedly retired detectives in crime fiction before – I’m looking at you, DI Rebus – I don’t think we’ve seen one going through the psychological withdrawal symptoms of the actual process of retirement before. Never has the root of the word retirement – ie, to draw back from – been more appropriate. We see DI Evan Glover literally pulling back from the world which has possessed him for thirty years and the psychological strain it causes.
But the real stars of this book are the women of the Jones family – bitter matriarch Nan, her much-put-upon daughter, Helen and granddaughter Sadie. The dynamics between the three generations are beautifully drawn and you both feel for them and want to shake them, by turns.
However, characters are nothing without plot and this is one that draws you in, slowly but inexorably, until you literally cannot put the book down. There were some truly admirable twists and turns (as in, I didn’t see them coming, and I read a lot of crime fiction) and the denouement was nicely satisfying.
As a bit of a footnote, though Rhosddraig is based in a real location, it isn’t a real place but, if you read The Wrong Boy, you’ll wish you could go there and see the coastal landscape that Cathy Ace has drawn in the book. From the mists that descend periodically, cutting the place off, to the Dragon’s back stones, you feel you know the place. You can feel your pulse and heartrate speed up as you climb the hill to the Devil’s Table and the Concubine’s Pillow, taste the damp of the mist on your tongue, feel the roughness of the burial mound stones under your fingertips.
I’m already a fan of Cathy Ace’s work but I hope she writes more in this vein. In the interests of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel.” Alis Hawkins, author https://alishawkins.co.uk/