Just What Kind of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly



First published in April 2013 by Bantam Press

Paperback published 13 March 2014 by Corgi

From Goodreads

A searing and sinister thriller for readers who liked Gone Girl.What if your best friend’s child disappears? And it was all your fault. This is exactly what happens to Lisa Kallisto, overwhelmed working mother of three, one freezing December in the English Lake District. She takes her eye off the ball for just a moment and her whole world descends into the stuff of nightmares. Because, not only is thirteen-year-old Lucinda missing, and not only is it all Lisa’s fault, but she’s the second teenage girl to disappear within this small tightknit community over two weeks. The first girl turned up stripped bare, dumped on a busy high street, after suffering from a terrifying ordeal.

Wracked with guilt over her mistake and after being publicly blamed by Lucinda’s family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. But as she begins peeling away the layers surrounding Lucinda’s disappearance, Lisa learns that the small, posh, quiet town she lives in isn’t what she thought it was, and her friends may not be who they appear, either.

My thoughts:

This was such an accomplished and confidently written novel that it was difficult to believe it was a debut.

What makes this novel so compelling is the knowledge that this scenario could happen to anybody – and just that one time you make a mistake could have such drastic consequences – as Lisa Kallisto discovered. Lisa is a busy mum of three, managing a struggling animal rescue home and overwhelmed with the stresses of daily life. As her 13 year old daughter Sally had been off school sick, Lisa had completely forgotten that Sally’s friend Lucinda was supposed to be having a sleepover at their house that night. Lucinda’s mother Kate didn’t collect her from school because she was meant to be with Sally. Lucinda goes missing!

This was a chilling read – made even more so because the person we believe to be the perpetrator of the crimes has their own voice throughout the book. We have no idea who it is but we see their preparations, their anticipation and then the disclosure that another child has gone missing.

The characters are just so well executed and realistic. I really felt for Lisa as the consequences of her mistake hit home and she had to deal with her feelings of anguish and guilt. Her husband Joe is supportive but you know that secretly he feels she is to blame too. Kate, Lucinda’s mother, is portrayed as a Superwoman who with one hand behind her back can manage a household and organise school fundraising without even breaking sweat. Then there is Alexa (Kate’s sister) with her superior attitude who really tears into Lisa and of course the detective investigating the crimes. DC Joanne Aspinall was a great character who I would love to see more of. She was so reassuringly normal; she doesn’t care if she ruffles a few feathers to get answers and the banter between her and “Mad Aunt Jackie” with whom she lived added a touch of humour.

The tension and suspense was sustained throughout the book.  There were many twists and turns and I was gripped right up to the end – to a conclusion that I wasn’t expecting and which shot my own theories right out of the water! This is an excellent thriller and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next novel by Paula Daly which is published soon – Keep Your Friends Close. I now have another author to add to my list of favourite thriller writers.

About the author:

Paula Daly

Paula Daly was born in Lancashire. Before beginning her first novel Just What Kind of Mother Are You? she was a self-employed physiotherapist. She
lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children and whippet Skippy.

You can follow the author on Twitter


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