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4.2 out of 5 stars94
4.2 out of 5 stars
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This is a dark, sinister and at times, downright scary read. Kate's life has been a succession of terrible events. Her parents died in a car accident and her husband Hugo was killed five years ago. Kate is convinced that she is cursed and will do anything possible to ensure that she and her son Jack are safe. Kate and Jack move from London to Oxford, to be near to Hugo's parents and sister. Kate is completely obsessed with statistics, she can't make any decisions without thinking about the 'numbers' that creep into her brain.

You have 55% chance of dying if you are hit by a car at 30 miles per hour.
40% of catering staff do not wash their hands after going to the toilet.

Kate knows the statistics for everything and this is preventing her and Jack leading normal, everyday lives. By trying to protect Jack, she's harming him. Jack is an unhappy little boy, gentle and sensitive, he hates the way that his mother pretends to be carefree, he can see in her eyes that she is faking it.

Hugo's family are at the end of the line with Kate, they are grieving too but they cannot bear to see how unhappy she is making little Jack. The battle lines are drawn and Kate really has to prove to them that she is a good mother.

When Kate meets Jago, a Scottish University professor by chance one day, she is amazed to find that he understands her, and can help her to overcome her fears.

The cleverest thing about this story is that the reader knows that Kate's fears are actually real. Although Kate's paranoia is totally over the top, Louise Millar has ensured that the reader can empathise with her. Only we know that danger is lurking, that Kate's fears are real, she's not going mad at all.

Louise Millar weaves a story that keeps the reader gripped from the opening lines. There are twists and turns all over the place, the biggest and most shocking being towards the end. I certainly didn't see it coming, and that for me, makes the perfect reading experience. I love it when a book shocks and surprises me and this one certainly did that.

There is no doubt that Louise Millar is an excellent author and has now produced two very well-written, suspenseful novels that are a must-read for any fan of psychological thrillers
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I'd like to have given three-and-a-half stars to this, if Amazon would let me. If you're looking for a page-turning psychological thriller to read on holiday, you could do worse than Louise Millar's Accidents Happen - if SJ Watson's Before I Go To Sleep is your kind of thing, perhaps. Don't, however, turn to this one for gritty realism: it's not strong on plausibility.

The protagonist of Accidents Happen is Kate, an affluent middle-class widow who, after losing first her parents and then her husband in tragic circumstances, has been left convinced that she is 'cursed' and suffering from an anxiety disorder somewhere on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, constantly running through statistics and probability sums in her head in order to reduce the risk inherent in everything she or her 10-year-old son Jack does. As her anxiety spirals so far out of control that her wealthy in-laws are concerned for Jack's welfare, Kate meets Jago, a professor of maths who has recently published a book about risk in the 'popular science' genre. Jago is certain he can help Kate to overcome her problems with a sort of immersion therapy, encouraging her to carry out what amount to grown-up dares to re-accustom herself to minor risk-taking, and his approach seems to be working. Yet Kate still has a nagging doubt that someone or something may be gaining access to her house, and Jack seems to share the same fear. Are they so consumed by Kate's neuroses that they are seeing dangers where none exist? Or could this be the one and only time when Kate and Jack really are in danger?

The basic premise of Accidents Happen is an original one, and one that captured my attention right from the start. I could easily see that Kate's problem was entirely credible, given her history, and found her an easy character with whom to sympathise as she tries to do the best for her son in parallel with the well-meant but sometimes stifling input of her late husband's family. Jack, too, is wholly believable: at almost eleven, he's just at the age where a desire for more independence sometimes conflicts with day-to-day childhood doubts over outdoor sleepovers and walks down creepy country lanes.

Louise Millar withholds various snippets of information from us throughout the book to keep us turning the pages, revealing something significant every few chapters to keep up our interest and raise our suspicions. Accidents Happen is full of secrets and unspoken family tensions and as such, it's certainly a suspense-packed read. Where I think it falls down is in the characterisation of Jago, who is supposed to be a sufficiently likeable charmer to set Kate's heart fluttering for the first time after her husband's death, but merely came across to me as an insufferably smug pillock from whom any sensible woman would have walked away on date one, and in the ending, which I simply found so implausible as to be almost disappointing. I can't deny that it's been very cleverly worked out, but I just found it impossible to believe and executed at a pace that seemed rushed. I could have accepted how terribly unlikely it all was if it had been revealed more gradually, but having it all thrown at me within such a short space of time did give me, to quote Through The Looking Glass, the sensation of 'believing six impossible things before breakfast'.

Accidents Happen (again, rather like Before I Go To Sleep) is a book that benefits from a certain disengagement of one's brain when you read it. Try to forget that none of this would happen in a million years, and just sit back and enjoy it.
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Kate is unlucky - fatal accidents play a big part in her life, so it's no surprise that she's always anxious. But now even she thinks she's going too far - she's pushing away her son, her in-laws are increasingly unsympathetic, and she has no friends. So when a new man enters her life, Kate thinks it's time to put her past firmly behind her... but is that ever possible?

This is a creepy, nervous read that reminded me to some extent of Into the Darkest Corner in terms of atmosphere, though the story-line isn't the same. It's tighter than Millar's The Playdate which I thought was excellent though perhaps less believable. Millar excels at creating dissonant domestic dramas where nothing is quite what it seems.

There are some pretty big implausabilities and holes in the plot particularly towards the end, so it's one of those books where it's best to just go with the flow and switch off your more critical facilities. But, despite that, this is gripping and compelling - but perhaps not a book to read when you're alone in the house.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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on 24 October 2013
This is a second novel by a local North London writer, Louise Millar which I've read and loved. Her first, The Playdate, was a story of a mother's very modern nightmare - who can you trust to look after your children? Scary to say the least.

Accidents Happen is an equally disturbing tale about Kate, who after the sudden death of her parents, followed by the loss of her husband in a violent attack, believes she is cursed.

After being widowed Kate and her son Jack move away from London and settle in Oxford, to be near Kate's in-laws. But her late husband's parents see Kate as an overreacting, paranoid mother who can't look after their grandson. Even Saskia, Kate's sister-in-law and former confidante, is turning into an enemy rather than a friend.

While Kate spends her days studying statistics of bike accidents or disasters occurring to children at school, she meets a handsome American professor, Jago, who takes upon himself to 'cure' Kate of her paranoia. Slowly Kate begins to relax and believes that she and Jack may be normal and safe after all.

But why do things keep moving around in Jack's bedroom at night?

And why is the Nordic neighbour, Magnus, taking such and interest in Kate and Jack?

This tightly knit tale of a single mother's struggle to survive, to keep her son safe from the dangers lurking in the outside world, is very well executed. Kate is a likeable, strong character, while also being vulnerable - a combination which keeps the reader's interest piqued all through the story.

If you haven't yet read Louise Millar, the new dame of the domestic thriller genre, I urge you to try The Playdate and Accidents Happen.
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on 5 June 2013
Kate's life has been taken over by her fear that something else bad is going to happen in her life... after all she's already lost her parents and husband in tragic circumstances... so she's determined to keep herself and her son Jack safe no matter what it takes.

Every time she goes anywhere and every time she does something she's mentally calculating the statistics of something bad happening but she cannot see the effect that her paranoia is having on Jack. He's no longer the happy go lucky boy that he once was which has worried her in-laws, Helen and Richard, so much so that they are considering going for custody of him.

It's only when she has a chance encounter with Jago, a visiting professor who'd written a book about odds, that she finally takes steps to try and tackle her fears head on. The more time that she spends with Jago, the more he pushes her to take risks but will she ever be able to let go completely.

This book was a bit of a slow starter for me and it did take a few chapters to grab me but once it did I was hooked and wanting to continue to turn the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Will Kate finally be able to overcome her fears so that she and Jack can live happily ever after? Or maybe she was right to be concerned and she should be a little worried after all...

If I had one negative point to make about the storyline, and it's a minor one at that, it would be that I did think some of the scenarios that Jago puts Kate in were a little over the top, and not something a law-abiding citizen like herself would do! I think that even someone at their breaking point would still know right from wrong and would have refused to do the challenges.

Overall it was a gripping complex thriller that had me on edge at times, and I definitely did not see the twist coming which is a sign of a good story, but it's probably not advisable to read this book when you're in an old creaking house on your own...
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I enjoyed this book, the author is a wonderful writer who hooks the reader in and keeps you desperate to turn the pages. BUT, the plot in this book is just downright silly.
Kate has suffered terrible tragedy in her life, she lost her parents on her wedding day, and a few years later was widowed. Now she lives in Oxford with her son Jack, close to her in laws so that they can help out whenever she needs them. She is somewhat disturbed following her terrible suffering, and cannot contemplate anything without weighing up the statistics involved in the risk. Her head is filled with these figures and she knows her obsession is affecting Jack too; her in laws also know it and are becoming seriously concerned.
Kate decides to seek help. She is befriended by a visiting professor at the University, who offers to help her, and pushes her to take risks. This is where, for me, the book got a bit silly. Some of the risks were really out of order and I found it difficult to accept that Kate would do these things, not from the risk element, but from a sense of decency, and right and wrong.
In the background we also have the creepy neighbour who adds the menace to the book.
It is a good read, I did enjoy it and I really like Louise Millar's writing, I didn't guess the twist at all, but I found the whole plot very unlikely, from the ludicrous risks, to the reasons behind it all, and I just thought it was all too far fetched.
5 stars for the writing, about 2 for the plot.
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on 22 June 2015
I’d really been looking forward to reading this book because I’d enjoyed Louise Millar’s debut, The Playdate, which came out a couple of years ago. And I did enjoy Accidents Happen, just not as much as I had hoped I would.

What I liked was Millar’s writing style, which is really easy to read without being overly simplistic. It suits the type of book. The story itself had plenty of twists and turns and suspenseful moments. There were times when I found I had been holding my breath waiting to see what would happen next.

The problem, though, was that I just didn’t like Kate. I understood why she was so paranoid and behaved the way she did but, at the same time, I didn’t. Because it was so obviously hurting her son and she so quickly gave up on professional help. I know she had to to keep the plot moving but it irked me and I couldn’t get past it. It took away my sympathy and it never came back.

For me, I have to identify with the characters. I have to love them or hate them. Spending my time irritated by them doesn’t work. It distracts me. I know that’s not the same for everyone and so I wouldn’t not recommend this book, just not to the people I know have the same reading tastes as me.
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Wow this is a real psychological thriller! Set in Oxford Kate, mother to Jack is struggling with anxiety searching out statistics to make their lives safer. In short she has suffered so much bad luck that she believes she is cursed. Kate's mother and father-in-law, Helen and Richard along with their daughter Saskia are keen to help her out but tensions are rising as they become desperately concerned for Jacks well-being.

At first I found the endless labouring of Kate's anxiety a little off-putting and did wonder if this book was going to live up to The Playdate or whether it was going to be a simple story about an over cautious mother. I needn't have worried, this is a complex, well plotted, unusual take on psychological terror. The relationships between the characters are considered and accurate, particularly between Jack, wavering between wanting to be a child and longing to be allowed to grow up and stretch his wings, and his mother with her overriding concerns.

The atmosphere in this book progressively darkens until I found myself racing towards the ending; an ending that is perfect.
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on 4 November 2014
A woman reacts to a series of hideous events in her life by arming herself with statistics and extrapolating them as a basis on which to live her life, to the horror of her son and family. She meets her ideal man, who attempts to 'cure' her while establishing himself as dream boyfriend material.

This gets better as it goes on. I found it very hard to warm to the central character over the first half of the book, but there is genuine peril established, especially in the elements that involve home invasions. It does suffer slightly from the hackneyed plot device of family members dismissing legitimate events as paranoia, with the result that the central character becomes isolated and is removed from the types of safety net that would exist in reality.

There is a sense of the ITV drama mini-series going on here, right down to the 'rational' explanation which emerges from the characters' past, but it is better than most in this sphere.
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on 20 May 2013
wanted a book to get my teeth into & this did not fail. I'm not the kind of person who goes for books with long winded words & explanation that I don't understand but this book is written in a very easy to understand/read way.I really liked kate & can fully understand her protectiveness towards her son. I loved all the twist & turns this book takes you on & was a real page turner-the only thing that lets the book down (very slighty) is theres a build up to the finish & it all seems to happen very quickly. I was neverly at end of book & wondering when everything was going to unreel-it seems to unreel within about 2-3 chapters. I would of liked it to be drawn out a bit more,but dont let this put you off- very enjoyable read.will be buying "play date" now. love her style of writing. am just reading "close my eyes" by sophie mckenzie. really enjoying so far-will write a review when finished-but so far would recommend.another great read.
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