Blog Tour: The Mother’s Mistake by Ruth Heald

The Mother’s Mistake

Author: Ruth Heald

Publication Date: 11 June 2019

Genre: Adult Fiction – Psychological Thriller


Publisher: Bookouture

Everyone makes mistakes. But does everyone deserve to be forgiven?

She runs past the tinkling of children’s laughter that fills the park. Heart hammering, feet stinging, she reaches the riverbank, her breath catching in her throat. And then she sees…

Three years later.

Claire has everything she’s always wanted. A new-born baby. A doting husband by her side. A picturesque home in the countryside.

But behind closed doors, Claire’s life is falling apart. Her husband is barely ever home, she’s struggling to bond with her baby girl, and she swears that she is being watched in the remote, lonely cottage.

And when a threatening note is posted through her letterbox, saying she doesn’t deserve her daughter, it’s clear that someone knows about the terrible mistake that Claire made – someone won’t let her forget it. Three years ago, she would have known who to turn to. But now she no longer recognises those closest to her, or the person she’s become. Who can she trust?

An atmospheric, chilling and absolutely unputdownable psychological thriller about a mother’s worst nightmare. Fans of K.L. Slater, Shalini Boland and The Girl on the Train will love the twists, turns and gasp-worthy shocks of this stunning debut from Ruth Heald.



The day was a painter’s dream. Vibrant colours. Bright, cloudless sky. Green, leafy trees reflected in a sparkling river. An inviting morning, brimming with expectation of the summer’s day ahead: laughter as families picnicked on the riverbanks, children screaming at the unexpected chill of the water, a line of jostling tourists, competing for the best angle to take a photo. 

I felt like time should stop when I saw her. But it didn’t. The birds continued to chirp as if it were any other morning. 

My breath caught in my throat. 

She was tangled in the reeds. They had wrapped around her pale arm, the current pulling it insistently away from her body until the shoulder had dislocated and the arm bent backwards at the elbow, like a plastic doll manipulated by a child. The rest of her was under the water’s surface, bobbing. 

Even if time had stopped it wouldn’t have been enough. To correct things, to put things right, time would have had to go backwards. Stop me, before I started the chain of events that led me there, to the riverbank, watching helplessly as the little girl was pulled from the water. 

A policeman was wading across the river, the water parting for him, the drag of the current no match for his strong legs. 

He lifted her out, reached into her mouth and felt around for any debris, then tipped her upside down and thumped her on the back. Too hard. A spurt of water came out of her mouth and my heart lifted to my throat. 

‘Breathe,’ I urged her. ‘Breathe!’ His colleague reached out from the riverbank to take her from his arms. He handled her roughly as if she were little more than a doll. I fought to get closer, unfamiliar fingers gripping my forearm and pulling me back. But my anger quickly turned to despair. Her glassy eyes seemed to lock with mine. Her soul had already left her. 

A scream scattered the birds and it was only when my knees sank to the muddy ground and my fingers dug into the soil that I realised it was coming from me. 


But it was too late. There was nothing I could do but watch as the police officer desperately tried to revive her, performing mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions on the riverside for a good ten minutes, before he let the paramedic take over and collapsed to the ground beside her, stroking her wet hair away from her face. As the paramedic pushed down into her small body, it jumped and shuddered at the force, her chest moving with his hands, pliant and lifeless. 

I’d have done anything to hear her cry, but the only wails were from the police sirens, as car after car arrived, lights flashing with anticipation.

If you’ve enjoyed reading the prologue from Ruth Heald’s The Mother’s Mistake and want to know what happens next, grab your copy here:

Ruth Heald is a psychological thriller writer from a suburban Buckinghamshire town. She studied Economics at Oxford and then worked in an eclectic mix of sectors from nuclear decommissioning to management consulting.

Seeking a more creative environment, she found a role at the BBC and worked there for nine years before leaving to write full time. Ruth is fascinated by psychology and finding out what drives people to violence, destruction and revenge. She’s married with one daughter and her novels explore our greatest fears in otherwise ordinary, domestic lives.

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