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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Playgroup

Narrator: Daphne Kouma

Hachette UK - Bookouture

ISBN: 9781837909834

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: 03/21/2024

Format: e-book

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (ARC)



Breath catches in my throat and terror grips me as my daughter’s favourite jumper slides into focus. Time slows. Helpless, I watch my precious little girl run into the road.


Screeching tyres slice through the quiet afternoon. Days from now, my friends will say the worst day of my life was all my fault…


A bright and welcoming haven, the playgroup sits at the heart of the town, tucked away inside a red-brick building. The Nest should have been the safest place for my rosy-cheeked, pink-obsessed daughter, Florence. Run by mothers like me, I trusted my newfound friends – Alice, Beth and Georgie – to take care of my child. But now my choice has left Florence fighting for her life.


My heart pounds thinking about what I will tell my husband, James. He stayed with me through the darkest times, and I thought some space would bring us closer. But as I watch our little girl sleeping in a hospital bed, I know our relationship may never recover from this.


How can I tell James what really happened if I don’t know myself? I can’t shake the feeling the other mothers are lying to me; they know I’d never let Florence leave the nursery by herself. We’ve all got dangerous secrets we want to protect, but if they expose mine, will anyone, including my husband, believe me when I say I didn’t harm my daughter?


A completely gripping psychological suspense about the dark price of protecting your family, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Adele Parks and Sally Hepworth.







My Review


Leah Mercer's latest psychological suspense, THE PLAYGROUP, is a tense, compelling thriller with gasp-worthy twists and loads of dark secrets, lies, deception, and gaslighting connected by "The Nest," a co-op nursery school.


I stayed up until 5 am because this one is unputdownable. The last two twists were dynamite and unpredictable. It's a compulsively twisty, keeps-you-guessing ride to the end.


Lenore Morgan has suffered from postpartum after the birth of her daughter, Florence—now eighteen months old. She is doing better but needs to get away from her controlling husband, James, and try to make it on her own for a while.


She leaves London and rents a flat temporarily in the village of Mapplestow.


She sees a beautiful co-op nursery called The Nest. She winds up getting a part-time teaching position there, and among the perks is that she can leave Florence there at no charge and meet other children. The Nest has the best reputation, and she is excited!


The Nest was a refuge from the outside world, a world of responsibility and burden—a dream that becomes a nightmare.


There, Lenore meets the nursery's founder, Alice (an attorney), the manager, Georgia, and her assistant, Beth. Malena, a police officer supporting The Nest, is also present.


Each of the women has dark secrets and deals with struggles and demons. We get to know each woman and their personal and past secrets.


All is going well until Lenore drives back to The Nest after running an errand and sees her beautiful little girl running out in the traffic. The accident happens so quickly, right before her eyes. Her daughter is hit by a truck in the incoming traffic.


Who was watching her, and why was she alone to get in the street? Why was she in the road?

Frantic, her daughter is taken to the hospital in critical condition.


What comes next is a combo of lies, deception, coverups, manipulation, and gaslighting. Who is to blame blame for the accident?


Nothing or no one is as they appear.


Georgie knew she closed the gate, so how did she get out? Alice knows that if the media or authorities get wind of this, her other secrets could come out.


There is much more to The Nest than meets the eye. It has dark secrets, and if everything comes out, The Nest will be shut down.


Alice, Georgia, and Beth also have secrets they are hiding. Cracks and fissures will soon be unraveled. Secrets do not stay hidden. Is the Nest safe?


Then James comes involved, and more tragic events occur, leading to an explosive conclusion!

Secrets have a way of coming out, making sure you get what you deserve in the end.


I thoroughly enjoyed THE PLAYGROUP— Highly creative, intriguing, and unique. Ripped from today's headlines, how well do we know those who care for our children?


Told from POVs: Lenore, Alice, Beth, and Georgie. Everyone used Lenore's delicate past health to throw her under the bus to make her second-guess her mental health.


THE PLAYGROUP is an impressive, pulse-pounding, emotionally charged, smartly written domestic thriller. It is dark and suspenseful, exposing the fears of everyday women with delicious twists and compelling characters.


My first book by the author, and I'm looking forward to reading more! #CoverCrush For fans of Sally Hepworth and Nora Murphy.


Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for introducing this author and the early reading copy.


@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: 21 March 2024

My Rating: 4.5 Stars









About the Author



Leah can't remember a time when she didn't love writing. From creating fake newspapers to writing letters to the editor, scribbling something was always on the agenda. Even the rejections she received after completing her first novel at age 13 didn't dent her enthusiasm.

So it makes sense, then, that she pursued a career in anything but writing. Public relations, teaching, recruitment, editing medical journals -- even a stint painting houses -- until she finally succumbed once more to the lure of the blank page.

When she's not being jumped on by her young son or burning supper while thinking of plotlines, Leah can be found furiously tapping away on her laptop, trying not to check Twitter or Facebook.

Leah also writes romantic comedies under the name Talli Roland. WEBSITE


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