Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Mummy’s Little Secret, the brand new thriller from M.A Hunter. My thanks to publisher One More Chapter for providing an advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Four little words can ruin a life.
When Jess meets five-year-old Daisy and her mum, Morag, in a local London park, they seem a perfectly happy and loving pair. Until Daisy whispers four little words that send ice seeping down Jess’s spine…
She’s not my mum.
Determined to save Daisy, Jess becomes obsessed with unearthing Morag’s secrets. As she digs ever deeper, her friends and family start to question her own increasingly paranoid behaviour…
Four little words can end a life.
But Jess knows what she heard and she’s certain the fear in Daisy’s eyes was real. Of course she isn’t imagining things… Or is she?
Mummy’s Little Secret is a nerve-shredding new psychological thriller from the author of The Missing Children Case Files – perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and C.L. Taylor
Mummy’s Little Secret is a fast paced intrigue and mystery laden read which had me hooked from the start and which I devoured in a single afternoon. You know from the very beginning, from the blurb even, that nothing about this story is going to be straight forward, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the back and forth in terms of my suspicions and understanding that occured as I read. Whatever you think you know, you probably don’t and whilst some of the story is easy to unravel, M.A. Hunter manages to instill enough doubt in readers to make you question whether you have quite got the full gist of what is happening.
I think one of the things which works well for this book is that neither of the two main protagonists, Jess or Morag, comes across as completely trustworthy. We are given cause to doubt the behaviour of both women at various stages in the story and whilst both, on their own, come across as likeable, there is also something there, something about them, that puts you on edge, I kind of guessed Morag’s secret, although not its full extent, early on. And whilst Jess seems to act with the best of intentions, there are quirks to her behaviour which led me to wonder how much of her belief was true and how much was fantasy driven by her difficult personal circumstances. Certainly the author has put both women through the ringer in very different ways, but it enhances their characters and helped me become more invested in what could otherwise have been a run of the mill thriller.
There is a sense of threat that lurks in the shadows. Not overt, at least not until near the end, but enough to know that nothing good is going to come of all Jess’s prodding into Morag’s life. And whilst Jess’s tendency to jump to the worst conclusions first lead to obvious raising of eyebrows – trust me when I say that her first, and basically only, conclusion is not the one I’d automatically default to – there is something about her which kept me interested. Kept me rooting for her to find the truth. Jess is a problematic character, one who is gradually undermined by those around her, but portrayed in a likeable and sympathetic way. Morag is her polar opposite. Where Jess is emotional, Morag is almost clinical, but the reasons for the two distinct personalities becomes clear over time, fitting the story perfectly.
The author has created an almost two tier unreliable narrator situation where you never quite know what is what, although you will definitely have your suspicions. It is a fast paced book, the action being driven along by lots of conflict, internal and external to our two leads, and and increasing sense of urgency in discovering the truth. The ending is quick, but packed with tension, but in truth we have been building to the final showdown throughout the course of the novel, a dual timeline evolving around the then and now, even if the then only stretches back a mere week prior. A lot can happen in a week, as this book shows, and whilst we know that the growing tension between the two women has come to a very dark and dangerous head, it is a while before the full extent of has happened is clear. That mystery, that unknown element, certainly helped to keep me glued to the page if only to see how it all went so horribly wrong.
Tense, laden with mystery and with family right at the heart, this is a story that fans of the author will love.
About the Author
M. A. Hunter has been a huge fan of crime fiction series since a young age and always fancied the idea of trying to write one. That dream became a reality with The Missing Children Case Files.
Born in Darlington in the north-east of England, Hunter grew up in West London, and moved to Southampton to study law at university. When not writing, Hunter can be found binge-watching favourite shows or buried in the latest story from Angela Marsons, Simon Kernick, or Ann Cleeves.