PARKS dissects a marriage with the knife-sharp precision of a five-star Michelin chef gutting a fish.

But while she exposes the actions, motives and misdeeds of both husband and wife in forensic detail she never forgets this is a thriller.

The detail simply makes the story all the more gripping, all the more effective in heightening our emotions as she portrays their marriage from both viewpoints.

At times it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of novel this is, what it’s actually about, but all the strands eventually come together with great satisfaction.

Daisy and Simon have an apparently perfect marriage with a beloved daughter, conceived after years of effort, and she’s turning into a talented little dancer.

Then, as the couple try for a second child, Simon sees his medical records and realises he cannot be Millie’s father.

His long-standing drink problem – previously dismissed as ‘a little bit too much here and there’ – spirals out of control as he seethes with jealousy and resentment.

A devastating event, coming out of the blue in a brilliantly-handled set piece by Parks, turns the story on its head.

And where before the novel appeared to be a study in domestic disharmony, it now becomes more of a psycho-killer thriller.

I’m being a little disingenuous with that description: nothing is what it seems, nobody is what you think they are, and everybody has lies to hide.

Actually it’s another devastating event, several years in the past, that’s at the core of this hugely engrossing novel.

David Knights