Book Review: Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

September 24, 2013 3.5 stars, contemporary fiction, England, fiction, thriller 2

Written By:  Paula Daly

Published By:  Grove Press

Length: 256 pages

Source:  E galley via Edelweiss from Publisher

Lisa Kallisto is a busy, working class mom, she’s constantly running in several directions with her family and as the director of an animal shelter, striving to have all their animals adopted.  In what was a typical crazy morning when her best friends calls to chat and asks “how are the girls” she just moves along not remembering that her daughter’s best friend Lucinda had planned on spending the night at their house.  She’s dealing with her son’s new plan to have kids pay to play with him and after dropping him at school she receives the call that will stop her cold.  Lisa’s daughter Sally is is frantic, Lucinda never made it home the day before, she’s missing.  Thirteen and missing is a nightmare in anyone’s life, Lisa is full of guilt, Kate’s daughter missing and partly her fault. 

The story is complicated by the fact that there has been a recent abduction of another young girl, she showed  up half naked and very shaken up.  Could this same abductor have Lucinda?  We are introduced to a detective Joanne Aspinall who is on the case.  Troutbeck is the epitome of a quaint English Village, not the place where you expect these kinds of crimes.  Kate’s family is affluent and privileged, they expect Joanne to find their daughter immediately!

The author takes us back to the beginning of Kate and Lisa’s friendship, the reader is given a real look at what happens behind the closed doors of adults loosened with a bit of liquor.  Kate’s sister and husband appear to have a dysfunctional marriage, yet covering it up is much easier. 

The search for Lucinda and yet another abducted girl heats up.  The whole community is on alert, and continually the blame returns to Lisa.  What happens when things are kept secret and people lie and cheat to have what they believe is theirs? What happens when a family appears to fall apart and there is one scapegoat, one person left to blame?  All this and more comes to light when one one typical woman is repeatedly asked just what kind of mother is she. 

Every mother’s nightmare, I began reading this book and immediately felt the rush of adrenalin at not knowing where this young girl was.  I felt the attacks on Lisa were severe, and yet if it had been my child perhaps I’d be looking for someone to blame.  The real story is much deeper than the abducted Lucinda.  The relationships between three couples and their own marriages is the other drama in this book.  People hide all types of secrets and problems from the outside world.  Relationships hold all types of private back stories.  The ones we keep buried, and away from our friends. 

What I enjoyed most in this book was the relationship between Lisa and Kate, not at all what it appeared on the surface.  Lisa never feeling quite good enough to be Kate’s friend.  Lisa and her husband Joe were like the rock in a sea of floundering marriages.  The language and setting were a bit more difficult, set in the UK I had to look up some words and this always breaks up the flow of how a novel reads for me. 

The end of the book was a bit to quick and wrapped up, not at all what I expected and not as thrilling as I’d hoped it would be. The detective’s storyline was developed and yet seemed to go nowhere.   Still this is a book I enjoyed for the most part and would recommend to those looking for a book with many plot changes.  I rated it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

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