When a mother and her son disappear, DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford and the rest of her colleagues wonder, at first, if it’s simply a case of a woman leaving her abusive husband. Why, though, would she leave her other son behind? When another mother and child go missing, however, it soon becomes apparent that there is something more sinister afoot. With very little to go on, will the Metropolitan Police be able to apprehend the culprit before one of their own is targeted?

Mummy’s Favourite is the first of a series of police procedurals featuring DC Charlie Stafford as the chief protagonist. Charlie’s tardiness and lack of care for her appearance coupled with her determination to earn justice for those who have been wronged make her very real and likeable character. The attention to detail and accuracy of the detective work is also good and clearly comes as a result of the author’s own experience in the Metropolitan Police.

Like a lot of police procedurals, as well as detailing the investigation, we see chapters written from the point of view of the abductor. What I particularly liked about these chapters was that there was no hint as to who the culprit was. This made the reveal at the end one that could not be foreseen and was definitely a surprise. Although his methods were totally heinous, the author also manages to create a feeling of empathy towards this character as we find out about his own horrific childhood.

Another thing I particularly liked about the book was Charlie’s relationship with her superior officer, DI Geoffrey Hunter. In many books of this type, there is conflict between officers of different ranks so it was refreshing to see an Inspector who had a good working relationship with his team. Ben was another fascinating, well-written character – it will be interesting to see if he continues to battle his demons and whether his relationship with Charlie develops.

A very strong debut and hopefully the start of a great series!

With thanks to Net Galley and Aria for the advance copy.