In 2013, Melissa Slade was tried and convicted of the murder of her twin baby girls, but did she do it? Now, new evidence has come to light, seeming to support the view that it was, indeed, a miscarriage of justice and an appeal is planned to try to overturn her conviction. Newspaper reporter, Jonathan Hunt, covered the original case and now his boss wants him to take a closer look at the evidence to try to uncover the truth. Reluctantly, he begins to investigate, hoping to find out exactly what happened to Amber and Ellie Slade.
Losing a child is a tragedy that no parent should have to endure, but for Melissa Slade and her husband, Michael, this is only the beginning of their nightmare. The loss of Amber was attributed to sudden infant death syndrome, but the later death of Ellie caused the alarm bells to ring, with Melissa being convicted of her murder. We soon realise that at the time of the deaths, all was not well in the Slade household. Melissa was clearly struggling with the two girls, her relationship with her husband far from perfect. The addition of an au pair to help look after the babies added extra tension and with other family members from their previous marriages present in the house, there was no shortage of potential suspects.
As well as some of the book being written from the point of view of Melissa, we also have chapters written from the perspectives of Jonathan, and junior reporter, Kelly. Both of these characters had also experienced tragedy in their lives but I was pleased that this did not take over the story, something which other authors can often do. I found both of the journalists likeable, keen to uncover the truth about what had happened. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Kelly developed throughout the book, going from an inexperienced, wet behind the ears reporter, to someone who shows great promise in investigative journalism. Although The Guilty Mother appears to be a standalone book, I feel that there is enough scope in these characters to give them a second outing.
This is one of those books where you constantly change your mind about who was actually responsible for the deaths. Many of the characters had potential motives and my theory changed constantly as to what had happened. Despite working out one of the mysteries in the story, I did not predict the conclusion and was surprised when the truth was revealed. The ending is clever and definitely provided one of those ‘gasp’ moments!
I raced through this book, desperate to know the outcome. I have never read any of Diane Jeffrey’s work before, but I will definitely be rectifying this as soon as possible! A superb read!
With thanks to HQ Digital and Net Galley and to Izzy Smith for organising the blog tour.