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This is the third book by Paula Daly that I have read. I really enjoyed the first two books so I was pretty sure I would like this one too.
As the book opens we meet sixteen-year-old, Verity Bloom. Verity does not usually get into trouble and is a great student. However, right now she's about to submit her urine for her PE teacher to test. After an incident with her step-mother, her father made a deal that she could remain part of the school ONLY if she agreed to these weekly drug tests as well as counseling sessions. There is so much more to the story but no one listens to Verity. Her mother, Jennifer has multiple sclerosis and is in a care home near-by. Needless to say Verity has a lot going on.
We are then introduced to Detective Joanne Aspinall. It's to be her first date with a man she met online at secondchance.com. She's quickly realizing that most people are just looking for no-strings sex....not love. She's learned that it's better that she doesn't tell the men that she's a detective as that usually ends things before they even begin.
Then we have, Noel and Karen Bloom. Noel is a forty-seven year doctor. He is married to Karen and they have one daughter together, 10 year-old Bronte. They also each have a child from their previous relationships. Noel has a daughter, Verity and Karen has a son, Ewan. Lately, Noel finds himself doing whatever he can to avoid going home. His work is his refuge, where he is truly needed. He's never been a hands on father and has been mostly absent from his children's lives.
Karen Bloom suffers no fools and her children are no exception. She makes no effort to hide the fact that she is disappointed in both her son and Noel's daughter. Therefore, her focus is entirely on ten year-old, Bronte. Bronte is an easy child and does exactly what is asked of her.
Karen is known as a "tiger mother" and she's proud of it. Between music lessons and dance lessons, Bronte has a schedule that very few kids could handle. However, lately she's been having problems with her hands and although she's been to the doctor, they can't find the problem. Noel feels that her mother is pushing her too hard. Needless to say, Karen doesn't agree. Life is a competition to Karen, and only the best and the brightest will succeeded. She has given up on her first child, Ewan. He's lazy and disrespectful and she feels that she failed him as a mother. She is determined that won't happen with Bronte.
Right from the beginning, all I could think was that I REALLY disliked Karen. I probably said it aloud a few times as I continued reading. She's not just a tiger mother, she's a real *insert expletive(s) here* Wow...did she really pull some strong feelings out of me.
But then EVERYTHING spirals out of control after a simple trip to the park, setting off a chain of events that will change not just the Bloom family but many others as well.
This book had me locked in! I could not put it down! It's really hard to say much more without giving anything away. There were a lot of different plot lines happening, but they all came together well. Love them or hate them the characters were fantastically drawn.
An intelligent domestic thriller that surprised me with its twists and turns and some awesome jaw-dropping moments. Not your typical suspense novel....so much more!!
I am now a huge fan of Paula Daly and I can't wait to see what she writes next!
Thank you NetGalley, Grove Atlantic, and Paula Daly for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.
Paula Daly is acclaimed for her distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and terrifying depictions of ordinary people whose everyday lives are turned upside down through deception and murder. In her unsettling new domestic thriller, The Trophy Child, Daly digs beneath the serene surface of the idyllic suburban Lake District community where families strive for perfection, delivering a suspenseful, surprising story of motherhood and fallibility.
Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent – no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.
Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart – and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.
A thrilling tale of ambition and murder, Daly’s richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love is an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child.