Seven Minutes to Noon by Kate Pepper

Seven Minutes to Noon by Kate Pepper

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Mass market, 307 pages, 2005

Rating: 8/10

Reason for Reading: The author’s name rang a vague bell for me (admittedly,

‘vague’ being the only type of bell that ever rings for me), so I picked it up when I wanted

to read a suspense novel.

Synopsis: When Lauren doesn’t turn up for their usual meeting in the playground

before their children get out of school, Alice doesn’t panic at first – she simply figures

her 8&#189 months pregnant friend has gone into labour. But as the days pass and no one

hears from Lauren, Alice begins to realize something horrible may have happened and everyone

– family, friends, strangers on the street – may have something horrible to hide. Alice

feels like she must find out what happened – not just for Lauren and her unborn child, but

because she fears being pregnant with twins herself might make her the next target…

Why you should read this book: If you like a good storyline and lots of character development in your suspense novels, Seven Minutes to Noon would be a great choice for you. Pepper lets you into the hearts and minds of her characters just the right amount – enough to let you feel like you know them, yet not enough for you to be certain they’re not hiding a dark secret. Pepper works on the premise that it’s the most familiar things (in this case, children and mothers) that can create the most terrifying scenarios – expect to start double-checking your front door is locked and your kids are tucked safely into bed at night. The first half of the book is slower paced as you get to know the characters, and the second half zooms along at a nail-biting pace. A great read – provided you’re not home alone, of course.

Why you should avoid this book: If you’re looking for fast-paced action that starts right on page one, you might find all of Pepper’s detailed character-building a little mundane for a suspense novel, rather than a way of heightening the suspense later on through a more personal connection to the characters. Patience is a virtue – everything in the first half of the book is leading to the much quicker pacing of the second half of Seven Minutes to Noon. Some readers might find the mother-and-children-as-victims angle a bit too distressing, although Pepper never relies on goriness for shock value.

Opening paragraph:

Jen followed her mother to school, earning a come on or hurry up

when she fell too far behind. The early morning air was thick and warm on her summer-tan

arms, and Jen wanted to swim, not study; she wanted to play with her friends.

Fabulous quotes:

Simon fell silent and turned to Mike, who turned to Alice. She wished Maggie

were here, she would think of some way to tell the kids what was happening without,

somehow, revealing their worse fears. But Maggie had gone ahead to Tim’s, and Alice had no

idea what to tell the kids. Just this: tread lightly. But would they know how?

might not be a very happy visit,’ she said, looking gravely from Peter to Ethan to Nell, who

stood above them on the highest step. Her eyes, blue like Alice’s, looked skeptical. They

always had fun at Austin’s.
‘But mommy -‘ Nell began and was hushed instantly by

‘Let me finish, okay?’
All three nodded; she had this one moment to

‘Have you noticed anything different in the last couple of days?’

started this week,’ Peter chirped, drawing a giggle from Ethan and a hearty eye-roll from

‘Right, school started. What else?’
‘I know,’ Nell said. But she didn’t

elaborate. Of course she knew; little pitchers had big ears, especially when they were

‘Auntie Lauren hasn’t been home for a couple of days,’ Alice said, working to keep

her tone unencumbered, ‘and we don’t know where she is. I’m sure she’s fine – she probably

just got lost. But I don’t want you guys asking Tim or Austin any questions about where

Lauren is, okay?’

‘Anything else to see?’ Alice was just asking when across the street, on the

highway side of Hicks Street, she spotted the limo driver walking slowly along the

‘That man!’ Alice kept her voice low but couldn’t contain the pitch of hysteria.

‘He’s been following me all week!’
‘Him?’ Pam pointed at the man, who had become aware of

the attention and was now walking quickly away. ‘That sucker? Are you

‘Hey!’ Pam shouted at the top of her voice. ‘You! Where the

hell do you think you’re going?’

Also recommended: Tell No One by Harlan Coben; Cover Her Face by P.D. James; A Confidential Source by Jan Brogan.

Also by this author: Five Days in Summer.

Author’s website:

Fun tidbit: Click here for Book Brothel’s interview with Kate


Would I read more by this author? I can see myself hunting down Five Days in

Summer when I’m in the mood for a suspense novel, yes.

&#169 Lisa Yanaky 2003-2005

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