The Trophy Child
By: Paula Daly
Publisher: Grove Atlantic
Publication Date: 3/7/2017
My Rating: 3 Stars Paula Daly is acclaimed for her distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and terrifying depictions of ordinary people whose everyday lives are turned upside down through deception and murder. In her unsettling new domestic thriller, The Trophy Child, Daly digs beneath the serene surface of the idyllic suburban Lake District community where families strive for perfection, delivering a suspenseful, surprising story of motherhood and fallibility. Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her. Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop. A thrilling tale of ambition and murder, Daly’s richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love is an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child.
Paula Daly returns following The Mistake I Made landing on my Top Books of 2015, with her fourth and latest domestic suspense THE TROPHY CHILD with an array of dysfunction and madness, mixed with mystery.
Our favorite DS Joanne Aspinall (from previous books), revisits—always finding herself in the middle of trouble and mischief.
Karen Bloom (achievement-obsessed) is a tiger mom to ten- year-old Bonte. Karen is married to womanizer Noel and does not pay much attention to her stoner son, Ewan, and her teenage stepdaughter, Verity (drug possession). She had to agree to weekly onsite drug tests and counseling sessions.
Of course, Karen compares the other two children, to her precious Bonte. Brontë goes missing, and Karen is, of course, crazy with worry, since her daughter is her life.
Karen did not care that people called her a tiger mom. She was proud of it “It was an easy way to justify their own lazy lives, their own acceptance of mediocrity.”
And Karen was very sorry, but she wasn’t having that for Bronte. It was her duty to prepare her daughter for the life ahead of her in the best way she knew how.
Life was a competition. Only the best and the brightest succeeded, and if that meant Karen had to put her own hopes and dreams on the back burner, while she invested everything she had in Bronte’s future, so be it.
In the meantime, we catch up with Joanne, joining secondchance.com and her share of bad men and dating. She is always good for a few laughs.
Joanne is called in to investigate when Bronte goes missing from Windermere. She soon learns and is shocked to find a connection to Noel. (Seamus-whom she had gone to bed with six nights previously). She had no idea he was married. She had sex with the father of a missing child. Not cool.
Noel is a small-town GP. He had to be careful so as not to run into his patients. There was his first wife, then Karen. Second marriage problems, and stepchildren.
The child returns unhurt, (where was she), but not before Karen has stirred up all sorts of problems and outrage. Then Karen turns up murdered. Not liked by many, did Noel kill his wife? Was she sleeping around? There is a long line of suspects.
Now Joanne must find the killer and figure out what happened to Bronte. Was the same person involved?
A crazy bunch, this was my least favorite of all Daly’s books. I have read all her books and each have been 5-star, except for this one. Too much drama and not enough likable characters, except for Joanne (she is always a spark); however, beginning to question even her choices.
Fans of Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies may enjoy the dysfunction, drama and dark humor.
A special thank you to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“[An] absorbing domestic thriller . . . unexpected plot twists and sly commentary on the bourgeois milieu, will keep readers turning the pages.” ―Publishers Weekly “Daly, a master of psychological thrillers has written another gem. Thriller and suspense lovers will delight in this fast-paced novel with its twists and turns.” ―Library Journal (starred review) “A mystery to entertain.” ―Kirkus Reviews “A tale of secrecy, control, and the depths of motherly love . . . an enjoyable, well-written tale whose ending readers will not see coming.” ―Booklist “A crackling good read. Hard to put down.” ―Joy Fielding, New York Times bestselling author of Someone Is Watching “A terrific page turner.” ―Guardian (UK) “Entertaining and insightful.” ―Daily Mail (UK) “Daly bases her intricate, emotional domestic noir in seemingly ordinary suburbia and, set in the idyllic Lake District, The Trophy Child shows the turmoil underlying perfection . . . A fast-paced, enjoyable and suspenseful drama.” ―Daily Express (UK)
About the Author
Paula Daly was born in Lancashire. Before beginning her first novel JUST WHAT KIND OF MOTHER ARE YOU? she was a self-employed physiotherapist.
She lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children and whippet Skippy. Read More