"Just What Kind of Mother Are You?" by Paula Daly

What would you do if your friends child disappeared while under your care?  

Lisa Kallisto is just plain overwhelmed.  A mother of three and tireless worker at an animal shelter, she is always on the go and always exhausted.  One freezing day in December, in the Lake District of England, Lisa is going through the motions and when she takes her eye off the ball, thirteen-year-old Lucinda goes missing.  And not only that, she's the second teenage girl to go missing in two weeks.

Lisa is consumed with guilt and sets out to do everything she can to find her.  Lucinda's family publicly blames Lisa and she takes that on herself.  But when the first girl turns up and Lucinda doesn't, Lisa begins to discover that the small, quiet town she lives in has many secrets and friends may not be who they appear to be.

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? is the debut novel from Paula Daly. This  book takes every mother's worst nightmare and turns it into a fast-paced thriller.  Beyond the mystery, it's a tale of friendships and power, how the antics we thought we left behind in school can follow us into adult life.  It is a great combination of a relationship novel and mystery.

This is a fantastic debut.  The setting is wonderfully described, you feel the idyllic setting as well as the cold through the pages.  The sense of something terrible happening where you would least expect it jumps right out at you.  I enjoyed how the story was told from different points of view including Lisa's and the female detective working the case, as well as a mystery man fascinated by young girls.  Lisa is incredibly written, relatable and understandable.  Who hasn't found themselves overworked and overwhelmed at some point in their lives?  And to see her bring such pain onto a family she cares about when she never intended it is difficult.

The traumatic nature of the girls missing is also written in a balanced way that imparts on the reader the horrifying nature of the crimes without being graphic.  The twists and turns in the story are also wonderfully balanced.  It doesn't give away too much but also doesn't take forever to develop.  It's just enough to keep the reader engaged right until the very end.

This book is being compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn by just about everyone.  I haven't read Gone Girl so I can't comment to that nature but I will say based on what everyone is saying, if you liked it, you'll like this book.  But if for some reason you didn't like it, I say you should still give this book a chance.  Don't let comparisons put you off, this is a well-written suspense novel and I look forward to what Daly has to offer next.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.


  1. I think I could like this one ;) I don't read a lot of thrillers but this sounds good!


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