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The Boy That Never Was by Karen Perry

The Boy That Never Was

Family Drama   Debuts of the Month   Literary Fiction   eBook Favourites   eBook Favourites   

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April 2014 Debut of the Month.

A riveting and powerful read, from the very first page to the last you are caught up in this intriguing tale of grief and guilt. We hear the tale from Harry and Robyn, both have harboured damaging feelings of remorse, for very different reasons. Their stories are soulful and captivating, revealing more about them than they would ever want us to know. We witness two people in love, hurting themselves and each other; and one little boy, still in their hearts, their minds and could he possibly be in sight?

Suspense builds, subtly concealed amongst secrets that linger just out of view. The authors clever and impactive writing, from a hot sensuous Tangier to a tense sorrowful Dublin, hints at the distressing storm waiting to break. As a sense of foreboding slips across the pages, we wonder, we question, we wait. ~ Liz Robinson

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Glenda Worth - 'A heart wrenching story of a father's quest to find his son, even though everyone around him believes he is dead. The twists in the tale keep you gripped until the end.' Read full review >
  • Fiona Maclean - 'Gripping from cover to cover, this co-authored novel perhaps works because both male and female characterisation is strong and balanced.' Read full review >
  • Sarah Tilley - 'A real page-turner with lots of twists and turns guaranteed to keep you guessing!' Read full review >
  • Julie Bertschin - 'A beautifully moving story of a family torn apart and the aftermath of losing a child. This story will stay with you long after you turn the last pages of the book.' Read full review >
  • Gavin Dimmock - 'Harry sees his son in a crowd; five years after he died. A tense, gripping tale of one couples struggle with loss and grief and hope...Buying only one book this year? Make it this one.'  Read full review >
  • Rachel Aygin - 'I found myself reading quickly as I had to know - was the boy really Dillon and what had happened to him?  just when you think you know what happened to Dillon you realise you are wrong.' Read full review >
  • Emma Farragher - 'The rich narrative,the thoughts and feelings were described so beautifully it was with ease that I lost myself into this is, at all times, an engaging page turner of the highest magnitude.' Read full review >
  • Anne Marigold - 'A story of love, loss, lies and betrayal beginning with irresponsibility and ending in tragedy.' Read full review >
  • Sarah Hamid - 'This is a heart-tugging story of loss and regret, betrayal and obsession. An intriguing mystery - is the boy alive or dead? And will Harry and Robin's relationship survive the strain?' Read full review >
  • Julie Wragg - 'An absorbing and tense family drama of lies and guilt.'
    Evelyn Love-Gajardo - 'A compelling psychological thriller.' Read full review >
  • Carol Peace - 'A great read, I just couldn’t put it down.' Read full review >
  • Alison Greenare - 'I loved it!  An intriguing story of secrets, loss, guilt and obsession...' Read full review >
  • Lynda DeFreitas - 'A child disappears. Parents full of grief, guilt and anger. A chilling tale of love and loss.' Read full review >
  • Nicola Kingswell - 'This is a fantastic page-turner of a novel. The storyline is original, gripping and so well told.' Read full review >
  • Ann - 'A superbly written book with believable characters. It is about powerful emotions that can destroy individuals and relationships. An excellent read.' Read full review >
  • Sally Doel - 'a gripping read, with lots of mysteries and an unexpected ending.  I would certainly be interested in reading other books from this author. Unputdownable!!' Read full review >
  • Alison Bain - 'The Boy That Never Was has a surprising end with a sad and unexpected twist.  Well worth reading.' Read full review >
  • Alan Brown - 'A harrowing story that finally steps away from reality.' Read full review >
  • Emma Barton - 'The Boy That Never Was taps into every parent’s worst nightmare. Your child goes missing and you hold yourself responsible.' Read full review >
  • Heather Playdon - 'Sad, brilliant, unfathomable, believable. A brilliantly heart-wrenching story.' Read full review >
  • Samantha Chan - 'Fast-paced with believable characters. Harry makes the mistake of leaving their son unattended when tragedy strikes. Years later, he believes he sees his son and tries to track him down. Read full review >
  • Ian Harvey-Brown - 'This powerful and poignant story, awash with pathos, had me gripped from the start. As soon as I entered the lives of Robin and Harry, I was totally hooked.' Read full review >
  • Claire Kirkwood - 'I really loved this book. I was hooked by the first chapter and was unable to put it down. Full of twists and turns that will keep you gripped. A fantastic read.' Read full review >
  • Eloise Glynn - 'I really enjoyed this book. I found that it was a bit slow to start off with but once the story got in full swing it was fantastic and I couldn't wait to finish it.' Read full review >
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'The Boy That Never Was is a gripping, page-turner full of hope, loss and resurrection but all at a cost.  A brilliant and very compelling story.' Read full review >
  • Ian Tyreman - 'A book that absorbs from the start taking you into a world of tragedy and hope...An interesting and spell binding book, where the author grips your imagination from the first chapter.' Read full review >
  • Nicola Clark - 'Spanning continents, this is a mysterious tale of the consequences of an irresponsible action - can their relationship recover after their devastating loss? A highly recommended original tale.' Read full review >
  • Kathy Howell - 'This is a very moving book with a surprising end...This is a really enjoyable read that draws you in and it is difficult to put down.' Read full review >
  • Susan Wallace - 'A gripping mystery story about a boy who disappears during an earthquake and the effect this has on his parents, particularly after his father thinks he sees his son in a crowd five years later.' Read full review >
  • S Beney - 'A haunting tale that slowly untangles a web of deceit and questionable choices. Written like a piece of art, capturing the atmosphere, emotions & surroundings to slowly reveal the whole picture.' Read full review >
  • Susan Walsh - 'A fabulous Book. I loved it and would thoroughly recommend it...From the streets of Tangier to the streets of Dublin.  This book has depth & feeling.' Read full review >
  • Janette Skinner - 'This is an excellent book, a really great original story, very tense and atmospheric and flawlessly written. It is a real page turner.' Read full review >
  • Ray Orgill - 'This is a tragedy which involves real people and their secrets.' Read full review >
  • Lisa Faulkner - 'The book is an interesting read but lacked detail and style that can be found in the work of other authors of the same genre.' Read full review >
  • Lynne Morgan - 'Haunting and sad, the story picks up pace as it progresses, like a chase for the truth, rising to a dramatic crescendo ending.'  Read full review >

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Enter prize draw Draw closes: 06/11/2017


The Boy That Never Was by Karen Perry

The Boy That Never Was is that powerful thing, a beautifully written mystery driven by its exploration of the characters' innermost hearts . (Tana French). You were loved and lost - then you came back...Five years ago, three-year-old Dillon disappeared. For his father Harry - who left him alone for ten crucial minutes - it was an unforgivable lapse. Yet Dillon's mother Robyn has never blamed her husband: her own secret guilt is burden enough. Now they're trying to move on, returning home to Dublin to make a fresh start. But their lives are turned upside down the day Harry sees an eight-year-old boy in the crowd. A boy Harry is convinced is Dillon. But the boy vanishes before he can do anything about it. What Harry thought he saw quickly plunges their marriage into a spiral of crazed obsession and broken trust, uncovering deceits and shameful secrets. Everything Robyn and Harry ever believed in one another is cast into doubt. And at the centre of it all is the boy that never was...The Boy That Never Was is a deeply atmospheric and masterfully crafted tale of love and loss that will chill you to the bone. Fans of Rosamund Lupton and Sophie Hannah will fall in love with this debut from Karen Perry.


The Boy That Never Was is that powerful thing, a beautifully written mystery driven by its exploration of the characters innermost hearts - of the inexorable ripples that loss sends out, and the terrible damage people can do to those they love most. Both as a crime novel and as an emotional journey, it's gripping stuff -- Tana French

A truly remarkable novel. The Boy That Never Was is a pitch-perfect balance of driving plot and honest, complex human emotion. Written in a captivating, lyrical style and brilliantly structured, the story grips your heart from the first pages and simply never lets go -- Jeffery Deaver

This is a debut novel that will catch fire -- Nelson DeMille

About the Author

Karen Perry

Karen Perry is the pseudonym for Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. Paul Perry is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books including The Drowning of the Saints, Goldsmith's Ghost, 108 Moons, The Orchid Keeper, and most recently The Last Falcon and Small Ordinance. A winner of The Hennessy New Irish Writer of The Year Award, he is a Lecturer in Creative Writing for Kingston University, London, Writer Fellow for University College Dublin and Course Director in Poetry for the Faber Academy in Dublin.

Author photo © Edmund Ross

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Book Info

Publication date

27th March 2014


Karen Perry

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Michael Joseph Ltd an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd


352 pages


Family Drama
Debuts of the Month
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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