First a disclaimer, not only has Elisabeth ‘Libby’ Carpenter been a guest on my radio show at Chorley FM last year but she has kindly thanked me in the acknowledgements for Only a mother, which could be interpreted as bias.
However she didn’t ask for or expect a review (I bought the book from Asda with my own pennies) and if it was terrible, you would never have heard a peep out of me.
I can assure you it’s not.
Only a mother, published by Orion Books, is Libby’s latest crime/ suspense novel and for those who need a thought-provoking, gripping, read for a rainy weekend or a beach break, this is it.
Also reviewed: Green Viper by Rob Sinclair
It’s a fascinating concept, how would you react if your son was banged up for a significant jail term for a murder you are convinced he didn’t do?
For Erica the answer is to barricade herself from the world in her home, alone and despised via the reflected hatred for her son Craig.
She’s not necessarily that likeable a character – how can she be?
Listen: Hear Elisabeth Carpenter talk about how she became a published author via the Less Ordinary Podcast
A pariah in her community, she does nothing to reflect from that reputation, even ignoring her former best friend after she spoke to the press.
She just cleans the dog mess smeared up on the outside of her house and learns how to deal with fire bombs through the letterbox while submerging herself in Mills and Boon escapism.
But this fast-paced novel- told from the perspective of several of the characters – proves that everything is not always as it seems and not everything is black and white.
We meet Erica as her son is due for release and in those first few days, as she starts to realise she is not hearing all the truth.
The pace picks up as we become aware of the secrets and damage from Erica’s past – who IS Craig’s father?
And does his best friend really have his best interests at heart?
Meanwhile dogged local reporter Luke is determined to find the real story behind those murders so long ago – did Craig kill the other girl too?
But his pursuit comes a personal cost to him as well.
This is a compelling story of the harsh judgements of others in the northern English town of Preston (local to both myself and the author so extra fascinating), the complexities of relationships and how lies can tear a world and even blood relationships apart.
I devoured this at speed – finishing In a few days (I am a super-fast reader!) desperate to know what happens – and sighed when it finished.
Hard to believe something hard-boiled was written by so sweet an author – but we never really know another person, do we?
You can buy Only a Mother at all good bookstores and via Amazon HERE
*Not a ad, though as mentioned I have met the author