“Playing Nice” is the story of something that simply does not happen; babies are not swapped in the hospital. Yet it seems that for these families, it did happen. Two years later, when DNA results reveal the switch, both families are shocked and devastated, but determined to keep their sons, both biological and custodial. The story unfolds in first person narrative chapters alternating between the points of view of Pete, and his partner, Maddie. Between these accounts are copies of entries in the police case file, an ominous cloud that hangs over the story, and readers know that things are not going to go well for these parents. In fact, everything they do seems to make matters worse.
Delany creates characters who are sympathetic, tragic, troubled, and devious. After an initial agreement to peacefully coexist, they stop playing by the rules and start fighting dirty. The pace is deliberate with growing tension, apprehension, and resentment. Legal costs mount, and mistakes are made. Secrets ooze their way to the surface like bubbles squelching out of mud, and no one is who he or she appears to be. Things previously hidden from spouses and friends are subsequently discovered by enemies and by then by the authorities.
The world turned upside down for these two families. Nothing about this book is ordinary or predictable. The title is “Playing Nice,” but the parents absolutely do not play nice. I received a copy of “Playing Nice” from JP Delaney, Random House Publishing Group, and Ballantine Books. Just to relieve any possible reader concerns for the two boys, they will be fine. The parents will definitely not be fine ever again.