Book Review: Mummy's Little Secret by M.A. Hunter
Having absolutely devoured the Missing Children Case Files series by this author, I was intrigued to check out this new standalone domestic suspense novel, and I wasn’t disappointed. Firstly, it’s so nice to see a disabled protagonist who’s very well written; Jess is still coming to terms with the disastrous day on which she became a statistic; the 1 in 100,000 women who suffers terrible side effects from an epidural during childbirth. Her son Luke was stillborn and a needle slip has left Jess paraplegic. Six months on, she’s struggling to come to terms with being in a wheelchair, dealing with pain and depression, unable to even process her grief over her son’s death yet. The book goes deep into Jess’s PoV, sharing her feelings on being pitied by friends, manhandled by well-meaning strangers, her frustrations and fears. It might make a few readers think differently about grabbing hold of a stranger’s wheelchair without asking permission, which can only be a good thing.
Jess isn’t the only protagonist, though; we also spend plenty of time in the PoV of Morag, the woman who is the subject of little Daisy’s whispered confidence “She’s not my mum”. I found Morag a lot harder to like. She’s judgmental and officious, with a lot of mean thoughts towards Jess in particular which angered me. Curiously we get very little of her thoughts towards Daisy at all, though supposedly everything Morag does is to protect her.
There are a few chapters in third-person following the police investigation; the time frame does jump about a bit with ‘now and then’ headers on the chapters, the story eventually catching up to the action and revealing just what’s happened to have both Jess and Morag being questioned by police.
I found Jess’s backstory a lot more affecting than the crime itself, which was really nothing to do with her. What happened to Jess was cruel and unfair, and when thinking that, I realised what was bothering me about the story. Jess and her husband would have almost certainly sued the anaesthetist who admitted there was a needle slip, and be due a hefty payout - because even on the NHS, professionals have to carry indemnity insurance - and yet there’s no mention of any legal case at all. It took me less than a minute of googling to find a law firm who specialize in suing the NHS for epidural injuries on a no win no fee basis. Omitting any mention of it seems odd.
I liked the book, but I feel like we were short-changed a bit on Morag’s backstory in all the efforts to keep us in suspense. I think even more of an air of menace could have been generated if we’d been shown some of the family’s time on the run. All in all, this is a good effort but a few niggles mean I didn’t absolutely love it. I’ll give it four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley,