Lauren North will startle readers with her new psychological suspense thriller, The Perfect Son. This debut packs a wallop, making North a writer to watch.

Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital after being stabbed, yet her only concern is for her missing son. Readers learn what led up to this event, and why she mistrusts Shelley, the grief counselor who’d become her friend.

Tess has been moving through the sludge of grief after the shocking death of her husband. Caring for son Jamie alone, trying to find a new rhythm to her days, she comes to depend on the friendship of the grief counselor her mother recommended. Even Jaime likes Shelley, a good thing, surely. But does Shelley have an ulterior motive?

Missing Mark terribly, his brother Ian can’t stop harrassing Tess for money he insists Mark borrowed that he needs repaid immediately. Tess can’t find any record of this supposed loan. Was Mark keeping secrets from her? Or is Ian lying?

With Tess’s world coming apart at the seams, she can’t trust anyone. And who could blame her? Soon she’s convinced the very people she should be able to trust are the ones she should be afraid of. Is she being paranoid, or careful?

With the sense of isolation Tess feels apparent on every page, North’s story lurches from unknown to unknown, while all the time there is a searing truth hiding just out of sight.

A skillful debut that ends with a resounding twist, that then turns back on itself. Worth every moment of lost sleep.