I usually avoid books with titles followed by a “hook”. However, after a peek inside, I decided to give The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland a try. It was a good choice. Boland starts off with excellent descriptive paragraphs which set the tone for the tale. Told in the first person, (something I like), the story follows Tessa Markham as she trudges wearily home from visiting the graves of her dead children. On arriving home, she finds a strange little boy in her kitchen who asks the question that starts the mystery, “Are you my mummy?”
Tessa is already going through a personal crisis. From the loss of her daughter, one of a set of twins, to the death of her little boy, and the recent departure of her husband Scott who was overwhelmed by her grief, Tessa has fallen into a deep depression. Faced with the boy in her kitchen, Harry, who is about the same age as her late son would have been, she calls her husband for help. Eventually, the police are called and soon Tessa is suspected of kidnapping the little boy.
With a brilliant array of characters from her nosey journalist neighbor to her kind and sexy employer, the book is filled with suspense. As Tessa desperately searches for answers to how little Harry got into her house, to who brought him there, she encounters a suspicious police department, an avalanche of reporters, and Harry’s father who is understandably hostile.
I immediately disliked her husband Scott who seemed intent on believing she was losing her mind. On the other hand, I loved her employer, Ben Moretti, who never doubts her. The police are predictably distrustful, the journalists as invading as a litter of mice, and her co-workers remarkably supportive.
I enjoyed the clues set out for the reader to follow. While I did figure the plot out about halfway through, it was still an enjoyable read. In fact, I like it enough to pick up another of Boland’s books.
This is good, light-reading mystery, with barely any sex, a bit of romance, and solid characters. I finished it in one night. I do recommend it as a quick and comfy read.