The Trophy Child, the newest release by Paula Daly, was not your typical mystery story. Part police procedural, part psychological drama and part suspense, I devoured this one in the course of a few sittings.
Karen, a “super mum”, likes to push her children. But how far is too far? With an extracurricular activity around every corner and Karen’s family falling apart, she hones in on youngest daughter Bronte. By the time, DI Joanne Aspinall becomes involved with the family, they are in shambles: their oldest daughter is dealing with her own issues and things appear to be heading to a breaking point. But Karen would know when to stop pushing…wouldn’t she?
When the novel opens, things are very unclear. We know something bad must have happened, but are unaware of what the actual incidents were. Daly does an amazing job at providing just enough to pull you in but enough intrigue to keep you consistently guessing.
The characterization in this novel is divine. Daly does a splendid job at creating characters at opposite ends of the spectrum and juxtaposing them in such a way to create a slew of emotions. I hated Karen. I loved Verity. I was suspicious of Noel but admired Joanne. These ups and downs had me feeling like I was going through intense mood swings; I was angry, I was upset, I was elated, I was shocked. Daly took me on quite the ride.
Twists and turns around every corner, this one was impossible to predict! Daly uses a plethora of red herrings and had me thinking all sorts of things throughout my reading. She also does not follow any traditional plot structure or story mapping; instead, she combines multiple story arcs and character backgrounds and weaves them all together to create a completely original story. I was so impressed. Each section of the novel felt completely different.
My first experience with a Paula Daly novel and it won’t be my last!
I loved it.
5/5 stars from me.