Paula Daly's books - they're addicting page turners - and I was eager to read her latest - The Trophy Child. And yes, it was another fantastic read!
There are always difficulties in blended families. But the Bloom family is truly struggling. Father Noel is spending more and more time at work (and in a bottle) as he doesn't want to deal with the home situation. Verity is Noel's daughter, living with her father and her stepmother Karen not by choice, but because she has nowhere else to go. Ewan is Karen's son from her first marriage. He's happily stoned most of the time, living over the garage. The one thing that binds them is Bronte - the ten year old daughter of Karen and Noel. And then Bronte goes missing......
After Bronte's disappearance, Daly caught me completely off guard with the turn her plot took. I adore not being able to predict where a plot is going to lead - and Daly definitely kept me off kilter.And she provides us with lots of suspects for the whodunit. For for those of you who love psychological suspense as much as I do, there is a twist at the end.
There is so much going on behind the scenes here. Each of the family has secrets. But the character who had me spitting mad was Karen. She's a vitriolic tyrant. And she takes 'Tiger Mom' to a whole new level, scheduling every minute of Bronte's life, demanding perfection. Honestly, some (okay most) of her dialogue was off the charts. It was very easy to hate this character.
Karen's attitude is a current social commentary....."British parents, though they wouldn't admit it, were sneakily adopting the Chinese model of parenting, whereby anything less than an 'A' was considered a failure. They meant that a balanced childhood was okay for someone else's child. Not theirs."
The one I felt the most for was Verity. She is caught in this dysfunctional family, tormented by Karen. Each player is fleshed out with very distinct personalities. They're not all pretty and there was more than one character I was on the fence about. One of those was the DS Joanne Aspinall (last seen in Just What Kind of Mother Are You) who is investigating the Bloom case. But I was quite taken by her partner DS Oliver Black - he seems to be one of the few characters who has no baggage or ulterior motives. But, I found my empathy and sympathy changed with each new chapter and revelation.
But what I'm not on the fence about is how much I enjoyed this latest from Daly! Definitely recommended! Read an excerpt of The Trophy Child.