*Note : I received a digital copy of this book via iReads book tour in exchange for an honest review*
Joanne didn’t believe that her life could become worse than it already was. She had lost everybody and everything she had loved. Surely she had suffered enough? The press had called Joanne’s identical twins psychopaths. Her Maggie. Her Annie. But she still loved them, even though one of them had killed her husband, Jeff. Joanne believed that his murder had been an accident. How could one of her girls be a murderer? She knew them better than anybody else; they were good girls really. She just had to prove it… The brutal murder of Joanne’s goddaughter, Laura had never been solved. Items had been missing when Laura’s remains were discovered: clues that could lead to the capture of her killer. One of them was Laura’s doll … the doll that Joanne later discovers in her home. Joanne is facing the most horrific dilemma of her life. Has the wrong woman been imprisoned? Could her child have used such brutality against her best friend? Or could both women be innocent after all? Joanne needs to find somebody for her daughter to confide in; somebody she will trust. She needs a miracle. There is only one person who can help. He is compassionate and caring, with an amazing ability to gain the trust of the most difficult patients. He is Joanne’s only hope. He is Jonathan Davies.
Gosh, this was wild!!! The last book I read which used unreliable narrators this well was Girl on the train. GotT’s main narrator was unreliable because of alcoholism. But here, we are never really sure whose account is true. There are three primary narrators, Joanne, Annie and Maggie. Joanne’s version probably read the “truest” version of what she knew, which was honestly not a lot, and we are left wondering how much of it is clouded by bias towards either of or both of her daughters. But what really messes your head up (and so badly!!) is the contradicting laptop “diary” entries of Annie and Maggie where each one accuses the other of being the psychopathic monster.
There are always two aspects to a psychological thriller. The “psychological” part and the “thriller/mystery” part (duh! :P). So I thought I will talk about both of them separately:
Psychological : Brilliant, and just so creepy!! The sort of vile creepiness that will make you cringe at the baser inhuman/human desires, proclivities and violence. The diseased mind that blurs distinctions between rape, pedophilia and BDSM. The ending made my stomach curl and wish so bad for a sequel!!
(Note: Let me just state clearly though that the book does not have any graphic violence described in present tense. All of it is past reminiscences by Annie and Maggie. We don’t really read any long, detailed scenes. So, if you are uncomfortable about actually reading through detailed scenes but don’t mind reading a book that briefly talks about the violence at many places, then, I think this book should be a safe read)
Annie and Maggie both sound so honest in their accounts of what happened that you are even if you do have a “guess” about who is the guilty one or what might have happened, you can’t help but keep changing your mind about who is the more/lesser of the two evils!! Yes, evil! That’s the vibe throughout, that maybe one of the two is not “that guilty” and maybe there is a little bit of “niceness” somewhere, but completely innocent? Heck, no!
I loved how the author plays with our instinctive tendencies to sympathize with people’s outward circumstances, without delving deeper into how that is even related to the person’s guilt. So, in one chapter, I am feeling sorry Annie not getting much attention from her parents during childhood and now being incarcerated for murder (Oh, poor Annie!) and in the next, I am feeling terrible that Maggie can’t even look in the mirror without staring back at her “ugliness” (Oh, poor Maggie!)
This is just me, going through the motions of a reader, so I can’t imagine how it must have been for Joanne! Considering everything that has happened to her, she somehow still keeps her sanity. But, just barely. With her family lost forever, and vacating the house that they lived in, it is a painful process of letting go. Holding on is equally painful – especially when you are not sure which daughter to hold on to. The murders not just wreck her emotionally but also end up causing her to lead the rest of life alone in increasingly deteriorating health. Her only support is her brother and I loved how the author communicated Joanne’s frustrations with him. She appreciates all that he does for her but also has to tolerate his overbearing interference in how to deal with her feelings towards her daughters. We also meet Laura’s parents – Susan and Richard and through them we get a complete picture of the devastation wrecked on both families after Laura’s murder.
Mystery: The main revelation was stunning and though it was something I guessed (well, a part of it), I loved how it was built up throughout the book and how consistent the “narrating” was – both Annie’s and Maggie’s. I think the issue I had with the book was there there were too many past murders/attempted murders tied in with what was happening in the present. That, in addition with some forensic clues strewn about and revealed later in the book was really confusing to follow. Everything was tried to be made “important” to the main plotline. No wonder then, that I kept thinking that Joanne’s mother and her schizophrenia also had something to do with the “Who killed them all?” question. There were also a couple of major timeline discrepancies (I read and re-read and “fact checked” and still couldn’t come up with a reasonable explanation) . I also felt something was amiss when so much of Joanne’s family is spoken about and I just kept wondering what purpose it served. On a whim, I googled online and found out Joanne’s mom and another character from this book actually appear in the author’s previous novel. So, though this book is a standalone, just the knowledge that there was a previous book that covered what happened to Joanne’s mom helps in understanding why Joanne’s mom makes an appearance in this story. But, take that away, and you are left with a feeling that she is a bit of an unnecessary add-on.
A bit clunky towards the end (I am still a bit confused about a couple of facts), but if you love gory psychological thrillers that demand you pay attention to detail, then I would definitely recommend this one! This is one of those stories which finishes with a delicious open-ended twist. Ohh, the last chapter was so wicked… and so perfect!!!!
About the author:
Award Winning Author, JW Lawson is already gaining recognition for her writing talents in the US and world-wide. The second of a trilogy of sensational thrillers,Mummy’s Little Angel is the winner of the highly acclaimed Worlds Best Story competition and has also received some outstanding reviews from the professional team of judges in the competition. She is currently writing her third thriller, Crossroads which will be available in 2017 and the final book of the current series, Hush Little Baby will be available in 2018.
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