Review: Playing Nice by JP Delaney

Title: Playing Nice by JP Delaney
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Domestic Thriller
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


What if you found out that your family isn’t yours at all? How far would you go to protect them? A gripping new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of The Girl Before. . . .

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.


Playing Nice by JP Delaney is an absolutely riveting novel that is breathtakingly suspenseful.

Pete Riley is a devoted stay at home dad to two year old Theo. His partner Maddie Wilson works long hours at an advertising agency.  Young Theo is full of energy and Pete has his hands full trying to convince him to be kinder to his nursery mates.  Having completely recovered from the tumultuous early days and weeks of Theo’s premature delivery, Pete and Maddie’s world is upended when a stranger shows up and announces Theo is his child. Two premature babies were somehow switched at the NICU and Miles Lambert and his wife Lucy are raising Pete and Maddie’s son David.  Believing they can peacefully resolve this complicated situation, the two families begin spending time together.   But Pete and Maddie are stunned when Miles takes extraordinary steps that could destroy the life they have created together. Will they be able to stop him before they lose everything?

Pete is a warm and loving dad who is very patient with his impulsive and active little boy.  Although he never planned to give up his career for fatherhood, he is happy with their current arrangement. A former journalist with a newspaper, Pete is disappointed he has not managed to get his freelance career off the ground.

Pete and Maddie have very different personalities but she is content to let him make the decisions regarding their son.  She loves Theo but she thrives on her high stress career.  Maddie is not as trusting or even keeled as Pete, so she has a few reservations as they try to  work out a compromise with Miles and Lucy. When Miles changes tactics, will she and Pete find a way to keep their family together?

With chapters alternating between Maddie and Pete’s points of view, Playing Nice is a taut domestic thriller that is multi-layered and utterly compelling.  The storyline is well-developed and rife with tension as Miles steadily insinuates himself into Theo’s life.  With pressure building as the story hurtles to an uncertain finish,  JP Delaney masterfully brings this gripping story to an edge of the seat, stunning conclusion. A deliciously unpredictable novel that I loved and highly recommend.

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Filed under Ballantine Books, Contemporary, Domestic Thriller, JP Delaney, Playing Nice, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

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