In Paula Daly’s debut novel, Just What Kind of Mother Are You?, a mother’s nightmare unfolds over the course of four days. Four days may seem short to the average person, but for Lisa Kallisto, they are sickening, worry-laden and guilt-ridden. She is responsible for the disappearance of her best friend’s only daughter, and this isn’t the first teenage girl to vanish in the quaint Lake District. The first girl resurfaced in a nightmarish state after a horrible ordeal.

How could this happen? The answer may lie in the blind spots created by a stress-filled life, as Lisa is the epitome of an overworked woman. She is stretched thin between managing a struggling animal shelter, being a mother of three and trying to sustain a marriage. Balancing an extra chaotic week is all it takes to set off a terrifying series of events.

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? is a haunting, fast-paced suspense novel, outlined by a mother’s anxiety and a friend’s guilt. Subplots simmer to the surface, breaking characters’ boiling points and shattering porcelain perceptions, and leaving Lisa and the reader in a wide-eyed state of bewilderment and rage. The story becomes a disconcerting testament to domestic life and the potential deceit lying within every household.

Daly skillfully weighs the book with layers of emotion, seizing the reader’s empathy and ensuring the resounding effect of guilt, anger and fear. Daly binds insecurity with fear in this buzzing thriller to leave parents with a burning question at the forefront of their minds: Could this happen to me?

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