Good Bad Girl by Alice Feeney: edge-of-the-seat thriller – book review –
Former journalist Alice Feeney – bestselling author of Daisy Darker and Rock Paper Scissors, and owner of the well-earned soubriquet Queen of Twists – plays with our minds (and this time our hearts) in her new, edge-of-the-seat thriller.
With its themes of mother-daughter relationships, and a searing exploration of the complex ‘good/ bad’ conundrum, Good Bad Girl is a deep, dark mystery filled with Feeney’s powerful psychological insights, and the devilish surprises that have become the hallmark of her novels.
Featuring four superbly drawn and seemingly disparate female characters, a stolen baby, two murders, and three suspects, and using the medium of motherhood to observe dysfunctional families and the vagaries of human behaviour, this clever, multi-layered tale works its mesmerising magic from the startling open chapter to the final, jaw dropping conclusion.
‘Sometimes bad things happen to good people, so good people have to do bad things.’ Twenty years after a six-month-old baby girl is stolen from a buggy in a supermarket, a woman is murdered in a care home. The two crimes are somehow linked, and a ‘good bad’ girl may be the key to discovering the truth.
It’s the final day in her job as head librarian at a women’s prison and troubled soul Frankie is trying not to let her mind dwell obsessively on her teenage daughter who has been missing for over a year now.
Frankie has always thought of herself as a ‘good bad girl,’ someone who made the best of the bad life she was born with, and tried to do something good with it. But, despite her dependence on using a numerical mantra to help her through the day, she knows that people can’t be counted on.
And now that the future is looking uncertain, and the past is catching up with the present, Frankie is about to do ‘a horrible thing.’
Meanwhile, at the Windsor Care Home in London, 80-year-old Edith is planning her escape from a place which has the stench of death about it. She was moved into the home, without giving her consent, by her daughter Clio, and Edith, a former store detective, is convinced that her only friend there – fellow resident May who disappeared ‘out of the blue’ – was murdered.
Her sole ally at the home is Patience who works there, cleaning messes for a pittance, and has found a kindred spirit in Edith. The two have formed a close bond but Patience has been lying to Edith about almost everything since the day they first met.
When Clio turns up unexpectedly to see Edith on Mother’s Day, she has some news and a few home truths. She can’t afford to pay the nursing home fees any more and if she can’t find a solution, Edith won’t like the alternatives. But what Clio doesn’t yet know is that someone is about to knock on her door… and their intentions aren’t good.
With every reason to distrust each other, the women must solve a mystery that might just help them find out what happened to the baby who disappeared, the mother who lost her, and the connections that bind them.
Good Bad Girl – with its themes of post-natal depression and female family dynamics – turns out to be just as much an emotion-packed domestic drama as a twisting, turning thriller which ingeniously weaves together the lives of four women and exposes the hidden truths that connect them all.
Mothers and daughters, secrets and lies, pretence and harsh reality, good and bad... Feeney builds her characters, her suspense and her plot twists with the finesse and mastery we have come to expect from a consummate people watcher.
Filled with bittersweet and incisive truisms on the eternally intricate relationship between mothers and daughters – ‘People say there’s nothing like a mother’s love. Take that away, you’ll find there’s nothing like a daughter’s hate’ – there is so much to keep readers glued to the page in this terrific novel.
Pain, resentment, disappointment, loneliness, love, mistrust and despair... Feeney has a handle on all those human emotions, so expect the unexpected and don’t miss a moment of the ride!
(Macmillan, hardback, £16.99)