Review: The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Ilsa Evans


Title: The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer

Author: Ilsa Evans

Published: 1st September 2021, HQ Fiction

Status: Read September 2021 courtesy Harlequin Australia



My Thoughts:


The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer is a heartfelt, thoughtful and witty novel from Ilsa Evans.

Shirley Conifer has given her youngest son Daniel the benefit of the doubt as he struggles with single parenthood, but on discovering deep bruises on her four year granddaughter’s body she makes the snap decision not to return Avery to her father until he commits to making some changes. Worried that she won’t have the fortitude to follow through, Shirley seeks the support of Beth Patterson, Avery’s maternal grandmother, knowing that even though they agree on little, Beth will be similarly motivated to protect Avery.

Beth thinks Shirley should call the police, but with Avery’s mother, Cleo, serving a three month sentence in prison as a result of the couple’s tumultuous marriage, neither want to run the risk of Avery being placed in foster care.  Shirley is confident Daniel will do the right thing but to prove they are serious, the women, with Avery, Shirley’s 89 year old mother, Winnie, and Beth’s beloved schnauzer, Harthacnut, in tow, decide to leave the city for the week.

Daniel is furious when he learns of his mother’s actions, and refusing to accept any blame for the situation, demands Avery be returned or he will report them for child abduction. Determined to protect Avery no matter the cost to themselves, Shirley and Beth reconsider their plan, and go on the run, intending to stay ahead of Daniel, and the police, until Cleo is released from jail.

Unfolding from multiple perspectives, The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer, is a complex family drama that primarily explores issues around parenting, mother guilt, domestic violence, relationships, family dynamics, and ageing. Evan’s writing is sensitive and thoughtful, but there is plenty of humour too.

Though the police are confident the women will be found quickly, Beth, Shirley and Winnie prove to be craftier than anyone expects. While Beth lays careful plans to keep them all off the grid, Winnie reveals a surprisingly useful grasp of tech and social media, and Shirley ensures Avery is entertained. I enjoyed the dynamics at play, it’s not easy for the three very different women to spend 24/7 confined in the same space however, and the mood is often tense between them given Beth’s judgemental attitude, Shirley’s love of wine, and Winnie’s bluntness, but they also have the opportunity to learn from each other as they progress from reluctant allies to friends.

While the Grandmothers keep a low profile, Shirley’s very pregnant daughter tries to manage the situation at home, and Cleo is forced to face her mistakes. We’re also given some insight into the lives of the two female police investigators on the case, and a behind scenes look at a tv panel show following the abduction story. While personally I didn’t think the latter two perspectives added much value to the story, they do work within the themes of the novel.

As a fan of Ilsa Evan’s Nell Forrest Mystery series, I was especially delighted that the women ultimately took refuge in Majic, and that a character I had the fortune to win naming rights to in Forbidden Fruit (Grace June Rae) made a cameo appearance!

The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer is a thought-provoking, emotive and entertaining novel offering a wonderful mix of drama, adventure and comedy.


Available from Harlequin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn
    Sep 29, 2021 @ 06:43:35

    Oh sounds so good. Another me book I do declare!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. WendyW
    Sep 29, 2021 @ 11:27:09

    Gosh this sounds like a lot of fun and sounds so good.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. sandysbookaday
    Sep 29, 2021 @ 15:21:49

    Brilliant review Shelleyrae. I have this on my shelf and need to get to it. You have rekindled my enthusiasm. ❤📚

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Helen Murdoch
    Sep 30, 2021 @ 00:07:05

    This one sounds really good and like it deals with serious issues while keeping it a bit light, which I could use right now.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies
    Sep 30, 2021 @ 01:18:55

    This sounds great! It’s a bit surprising thought — looking at the cover, I expected a lot of light-hearted whimsy, but it sounds like there’s some very serious subject matter as well. Great wreview!

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Linda Moore
    Sep 30, 2021 @ 03:36:47

    Very good review.
    Book sounds great.

    Liked by 1 person


  7. cleemckenzie
    Sep 30, 2021 @ 07:04:18

    I liked this review and the idea of humor mingled with themes like child abuse makes me want to give the book a try. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Theresa Smith Writes
    Sep 30, 2021 @ 09:52:43

    I have been meaning to read this for weeks but the size of it has put me off. Thanks for a terrific review.

    Liked by 1 person


  9. 1girl2manybooks
    Sep 30, 2021 @ 18:45:59

    I also have this one to read. Glad to see you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person


  10. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out

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