Welcome to the tour for The Good Mother!
Published: 4th April 2016 (Carina UK)
Synopsis: The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.
Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.
The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear, knowing that whoever has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.
Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before.
The Good Mother is a dark and disturbing psychological thriller for fans of C L Taylor, Kathryn Croft and S K Tremayne.
The Good Mother opens with the narrative of a young girl clearly doing something that her mother wouldn’t approve of given the sneaking around that she is doing. We don’t know what she is doing wrong however the clever narrative provides the reader with an assumption as to what is happening. Next, we are introduced to Susan, who has awoken alone in a strange room without her daughter, Cara. Susan quickly realises that she is trapped in this room with no way of getting out and her panic and anxiousness soon increases.
The narrative is interwoven between what is happening in the room and what is happening with Cara’s friends, particularly Alice. It is clear that Alice is hiding something but she is torn between her loyalty to her friend and doing what is right.
Susan is a unreliable narrator as we are only hearing the story from her perspective. Susan is relieved when she hears her daughter the other side of the wall and hatches a plan to communicate silently with her. Susan’s motherly instinct kicks in to protect them both, but mainly Cara, in the face of an impossible task. Even during this communication we only hear from Susan, Cara’s voice is through the letters, and not in first person.
There is an air of threat from the captor but unusually he doesn’t seem to like having to use any sort of violence towards Susan, he seems to care a lot about her and Cara despite neither of them knowing who he is. Later in the story that we start to hear from him more and more as well as Susan.
The narrative is jumpy and disjointed to demonstrate Susan’s (and arguably the captor’s) frantic mind and the desperate situation that she is in, torn between trying to escape her captor and having to put Cara in harms way in order to do it. I liked the fight that Susan had, looking outside of the box for a plan and her scepticism towards the kindness that her captor was demonstrating.
Other than reading a couple of the chapter’s previously, I read this book in one day. The tension that is built up by Bird through the jumpy narrative and relentless pace is astounding. I just had to keep going to find out what happened next. I truly thought I had everything worked out, and then I realised that I hadn’t in spectacular fashion to the point where I think I actually read some chapters without taking a breath! I enjoyed how all the pieces started to fall into place – interestingly, this book isn’t one for leading the reader in the wrong direction to build up the tension, rather all the information is presented, just in a disjointed, non-chronological order in order.
I was pleased that I’d forgotten the strapline about the shocking twist because it truly was shocking when I came to it – I personally would rather that books didn’t have this marketing technique and allow for the narrative and the twist itself to work its magic! The Good Mother isn’t alone with this, in other books I’ve actually been pre-empting the twist throughout so I was pleased that I could just be immersed in this one! A fabulous psychological thriller.
Thank you to both the publisher and author for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the author
A.L. Bird (Amy) lives in North London with her young family. She divides her time between writing and working as a lawyer. ‘The Good Mother’, released in April 2016, is her major psychological thriller for Carina UK (HarperCollins), the fourth novel she’s written for the imprint. Her debut ‘Yours is Mine’ reached the coveted No. 1 spot in the Amazon Women’s Crime chart. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London, and is also an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, which she studied under Richard Skinner. Amy is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.