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The Other Mothers


The Other Mothers

Having recently lost her job as an investigative reporter, Natasha (Tash) is left hustling to try to find freelance writing gigs while also parenting her preschool-aged son, Finn. Initially, Finn has a hard time adjusting to the neighborhood playgroup that Tash enrolls him in. But one particularly kind mother enlists her own son to help Finn feel included --- and soon she and her friends have made overtures of friendship toward Tash as well.

Tash, who struggles to make ends meet on her husband’s physician salary, feels out of her depth compared to Laura and her wealthy friends, Claire and Nicole. But she also likes feeling included --- and her journalistic instincts are piqued when she finds out that Claire has a personal connection with a young woman, Sophie Blake, who had once worked as a caregiver at the playgroup and whose body was discovered in a reservoir adjacent to a nearby housing development.

"The tension and suspense ratchet up slowly but surely, with nearly every chapter in the book’s second half containing some new and unexpected revelation."

After learning that Sophie was fond of open water swimming, the police have ruled Sophie’s death an accident. But Tash isn’t convinced. The more time she spends with Laura, Nicole and Claire, the more certain she becomes that there’s more to Sophie’s story than meets the eye. And certainly the spa days, boozy lunches and shopping for designer athleisure wear that now occupies Tash’s days don’t hurt either, though her bank account balance is taking a definite hit from her new lifestyle. However, the more Tash learns, the more her suspicions grow, until everyone --- even her own husband --- seems to have a sinister connection to Sophie’s death.

As she did in her debut novel, GREENWICH PARK, Katherine Faulkner masterfully explores the darker undercurrents of women’s so-called friendships. In THE OTHER MOTHERS, what looks like friendship is complicated by questions of economic disparity. The cover image, of a woman on the outside looking in, perfectly captures Tash’s anxieties about her social position and what her outsider status might imply for her son as well. Faulkner effectively exploits anxieties about how to be the “right” kind of mother --- anxieties that haunt Tash as well as other characters, many of whom are constantly judging not only one another but also themselves.

The tension and suspense ratchet up slowly but surely, with nearly every chapter in the book’s second half containing some new and unexpected revelation. Odds are good that experienced thriller readers will guess one or more of these plot points before they’re officially revealed, but it’s unlikely that anyone will close the book without being truly taken aback by at least one plot twist. Faulkner continues to solidify her reputation as an accomplished writer of domestic thrillers.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on December 8, 2023

The Other Mothers
by Katherine Faulkner