By: Miranda Rijks
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Publication Date: 04/19/2023
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (ARC)
Four-year-old Florrie is missing. Who has taken her, and what do they want?
When Jane is asked to pick up her friend’s daughter, Florrie, from school, she can’t imagine the horror that will unfold. Because someone pretending to be Jane has already collected Florrie. And now the little four-year-old is missing…
Things don’t get any easier when Jane starts receiving anonymous letters that include intimate details about her life. As a psychologist and agony aunt, she's used to getting letters asking for advice, but these are different. Are they somehow connected to the missing child?
Then, to her utter dismay, Jane finds incriminating evidence in her own home, evidence that is clearly linked to Florrie. She starts to doubt everyone around her, even her own family – could one of them be implicated in Florrie’s disappearance?
Under the unspeakable stress, her marriage crumbles, her children act out and her once-successful business falls apart. And that’s when Jane discovers a shocking secret that shatters her entire world.
In a heart-pounding race against time, Jane must find Florrie and uncover the truth. Can she save Florrie and her own family, or will she be too late to stop the unthinkable?
The Other Mother is an explosive psychological thriller that will grip readers till the very end.
The queen of psychological thrillers, Miranda Rijks, returns following, The Concierge (5 stars) with her latest twisty domestic suspense, THE OTHER MOTHER. A child goes missing, and this group of friends—all suspects and connected in this riveting cat-and-mouse game.
Dark and twisty, blended with dark humor, white-knuckle tension, and MR's signature jaw-dropping surprises. One of my favorite psychological thriller authors—every book is highly creative and twisty. I drop everything when I see a Miranda Rijks thriller coming out.
OK, let's talk about these CHARACTERS:
The star of the show and heroine is Jane Wildman. A therapist and a secret (Dear Aurora Rae), Dear Agony Aunt advice columnist. A wife and mother of two teens.
Poor Jane! She is NOT, unfortunately, surrounded by people who care or support her. If she calls these friends, I would hate to have enemies.
~Her teenage daughter, Elsa, 17 yrs old (total brat)—is mean to her mother —evil and manipulative.
~Her teenage son, Alex, 15 (almost 16 yrs old) is not the warmest, influenced by his friend, Hari.
~Her husband, Robert, was unfaithful (she learns).
~Her clients are NOT nice or loyal.
~Her Agony Aunt letters are from people with hidden agendas.
~Her friends: Nala, Amir, and Cameron. Horrible!
She needs to start over fresh!
Jane Wildman is an Agony Aunt (for those in US, we call Dear Abby; whereas British, Agony Aunt). No one knows her identity except for her editor and a select few. Jane is also a psychologist.
Some letters are old fashioned, handwritten, sent via snail mail, some typed, and others emailed. Normally it takes her less than ten minutes to pen a response. (However, in the book, we see letters but no responses). This would have been fun to see.
Jane has three close friends: again, if you call them so.
~Nala (physiotherapy practice)
~Amira (does not work). Gives Jane's teenage son alcohol.
~Carmen (mobile beautician) nail and beauty treatments.
They became friends seven years earlier when they took rooms in the commercial building in Horsham set up for independent professionals running health and wellness businesses. Amir's son Hari is best friends with Jane's son, Alex.
Her friend, Nala, is married to Lorenzo with a daughter, Florrie (four-year-old), and another baby on the way. Nala is a physiotherapist and a little younger than Jane. Florrie attends Bluebell Primary School in West Sussex.
Nala is stuck at a training seminar and calls Jane to see if she can pick up Florrie from school and meet her at the dentist. However, upon arrival at the school, she is told Florrie was picked up by another woman named Jane. What the heck is going on?
Four-year-old Florrie Moretti is officially MISSING. Something is terribly wrong. She does not have her favorite toy, Elo, a saggy, worn elephant.
What occurs next is an investigation—a kidnapping. DS Grainger and Det Constable Krish Chandra are on the case. But no demand for money comes. What is the motive? The security cam image looks like a woman, but very blurry, so difficult to identify.
Lorenzo, Nala's husband, travels and has a bad temper. We later find out their marriage is not so great. But Nala's little girl is missing, and she is pregnant, so she sticks it out with him.
We hear from POVS: Jane, Nala, and Carmen. We also get a few letters to Dear Aurora Rae, with possibly fake names. Are they connected?
Secrets of the past are slowly unraveled. One of Florrie's little socks shows up at Jane's house in the laundry. Jane starts suspecting everyone. Is there a pedophile among them? All the families are connected in mysterious ways.
In the meantime, Jane's life is slowly UNRAVELING due to the fact she was the one who was supposed to pick up Florrie, and now her husband, Robert is a suspect. A media frenzy. Something in Jane's past with a patient (a baby abduction) comes to the surface and is used against her.
A journalist wants her to tell her story, then gaslights her. Her clients turn on her, her so-called friends, her daughter, and now her business and reputation.
Someone is taking out credit cards and an apartment in her name. Who has stolen her identity or is trying to set her up for kidnapping and possibly murder? Her life is crumbling before her eyes. She has been betrayed.
What about poor little Florrie? Will she make it out alive?
Jane dives deeper to find the kidnapper because she feels little Florrie is in grave danger. The closer she gets, she is in danger. The letters to Dear Aurora Rae become more sinister. Her clients are getting creepy.
The truth is slowly unraveled about Florrie's bio father. Then we hear from little Florrie, which is heartbreaking, left alone all day locked away by a psycho. I loved her.
Drum roll: It is not until we get to the 50% into the last POV that your JAW begins to DROP. Fast and furious, things get complex and very INTERESTING, keeping you glued to the pages to the conclusion. This is where the book SHINES! This person is a psychopath hiding in plain sight and has Florrie's future in her hands.
WOW! As usual, yet another wicked evil twist (diary) is thought-provoking at the very end. I call this the second psychopath.
THE OTHER MOTHER is an addictively suspenseful and tautly written domestic thriller that reveals how nothing is as it seems, even in a perfect family.
Rijks is a pro at twists and turns, but these characters are NOT likable. The only ones which you have sympathy for are Jane and little Florrie.
A propulsive journey through a winding maze of secrets and lies. A shocking look at how even the most innocuous secrets between happy couples and beloved friends— in tightly knit neighborhoods— can sometimes turn so unexpectedly and terrifyingly deadly.
COVER AND TITLE: I know the author does not have much say-so regarding covers and titles; however, I feel this cover image and the title do not fit the book.
I would have LOVED the book to be titled "Dear Aurora Rae" with mysterious letters on the cover. I can envision it. As a publisher for many years, "covers matter. It would have set the book apart from all the other thrillers about "mothers."
If you have not read Miranda Rijks, she has a vast backlist, and you cannot go wrong with any of them.
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Pub Date: April 19, 2023
About the Author
Miranda Rijks is the internationally bestselling author of psychological thrillers, many of which have been Kindle bestsellers. She is the author of twenty books: (Seventeen psychological thrillers, one non-fiction, one biography, and one women’s fiction.) Before becoming a fiction writer, she helped newbie entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful businesses. In 2015, she was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, and everything changed.
Rijks lives in Sussex, England with her husband, musician daughter, and black Labradors. When she's not writing, she's dreaming about living in a chalet on a Swiss mountain (a reality), obsessively knitting, and painting on her iPad (procreate artist at Chalet Artstore, online gallery).
Her books include: The Concierge, Forget Me Not, The Insomniac, The Arrangement, The New Neighbour, The Second Wife, The Only Child, The Visitors, What She Knew, The Influencer, Roses Are Red, You Are Mine, Deserve To Die, I Want You Gone, Fatal Fortune, Fatal Flowers, and Fatal Finale.
You can find Miranda online at www.mirandarijks.com If you'd like to receive her free short stories, info on her writing, and be the first to know about her upcoming releases sign up for her newsletter at https://mirandarijks.substack.com