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The Other Mothers by Katherine Faulkner
Thriller

The Other Mothers

by Katherine Faulkner

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Quick take

Peeking beneath the pleasant veneer of a wealthy suburb, a twisty exploration of the fraught bonds between mothers.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MamaDrama

    Mama drama

Synopsis

When a young nanny is found dead in mysterious circumstances, new mom, Tash, is intrigued. She has been searching for a story to launch her career as a freelance journalist. But she has also been searching for something else—new friends to help her navigate motherhood.

She sees them at her son’s new playgroup. The other mothers. A group of sleek, sophisticated women who live in a neighborhood of tree-lined avenues and stunning houses. The sort of mothers Tash herself would like to be. When the mothers welcome her into their circle, Tash discovers the kind of life she has always dreamt of—their elegant London townhouses a far cry from her cramped basement flat and endless bills. She is quickly swept up into their wealthy world via coffees, cocktails, and playdates.

But when another young woman is found dead, it’s clear there’s much more to the community than meets the eye. The more Tash investigates, the more she’s led uncomfortably close to the other mothers. Are these women really her friends? Or is there another, more dangerous reason why she has been so quickly accepted into their exclusive world? Who, exactly, is investigating who?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Other Mothers.
The Other Mothers

Tash

North Cornwall police station

April 2019

We meet in a room with no windows in a town of pebble-dash houses. The high street is lined with boarded-up storefronts and betting shops. They have taken me inland, to the nearest station, I assume. Here there is no crash of waves, no call of birds. No cheery stripe of blue peeping out from behind rooftops.

In the car on the drive down here, Tom and I had made a game of it for Finn. First one to spot the sea. I had seen it first, though I kept quiet to let Finn be the winner. Seeing that sapphire ribbon stretched across the horizon, my heart had lifted, despite everything. At the promise of a vacation. Days on the beach building forts and castles. Finn’s feet making perfect prints in the wet sand of the bay.

I wondered if they might handcuff me, but they didn’t. They seemed almost apologetic, the officers in the car. They kept asking if I was cold, if I would like a window open, a drink of water. I shook my head, tried to focus on the landscape outside the windows. I wanted to find a landmark, a place I knew. But I couldn’t. And the farther we got from the coast, the more unfamiliar it became.

They opened the door for me when we arrived, offered me a hand, but I stepped out on my own. Overhead, the cold sky, speckled with a swirling milk froth of stars, was so beautiful I’d actually caught my breath. We never see stars in London. I had a sudden sense that I was only now seeing things the way they really were. And that I, too, was finally being seen.

Now we are inside the room. It’s just me and Detective Pascoe, a gray PVC rectangle of table between us. His colleague, Williams, said she would go and get some tea. She said it like tea was the answer to my problems. When I look down, I see there is a dark smear of blood on the cuff of my sweater.

I find my voice is weak, like something far away.

“You are looking, aren’t you? You need to look. On the cliffs. He fell, but maybe he’s still...”

My mind forms the next few words, but I find my mouth cannot.

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Why I love it

My favorite kind of psychological thriller is one I like to think of as “mom noir”—something elevated but easily devoured, and of course, dark in all the right ways that tackles the emotional realities of motherhood. For me, Katherine Faulkner is queen of this category.

Faulkner returns to this niche genre with her brilliant sophomore novel, The Other Mothers. It presents a delicious combination of treacherous secrets and enviable lives among a group of upper-class moms whose perfection unravels after Tash, a new addition to their playgroup and a struggling journalist, realizes things aren’t quite what they seem. The setting, it’s worth noting, is deftly drawn: beautifully decorated homes in lush London neighborhoods, elegant social gatherings with good-looking couples, mid-day meet-ups in posh coffee shops—the outward perfection is a tension in itself, especially contrasted with Tash’s much less privileged lifestyle of endless bills and a cramped apartment, as she does her best to fit in with “the other mothers.”

I could not part with this book until I’d finished its final page. Faulkner builds suspense steadily with smart, addictive writing that will satisfy even the most discerning suspense reader—there is never a dull page, and every twist and turn feels believable and well-crafted. It’s a rare treat to encounter a novel that delivers on so many levels—I can’t recommend this one enough!

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Member ratings (1,841)

  • Ariel H.

    Washington, DC

    I thought the author’s first book was just okay so I wasn’t sure to expect with this but I really really liked it. Very well done and well layered. Def worth reading even if the ending wasn’t my fav.

  • Trisha T.

    Auburn, WA

    Twisty & dark. Daycare time just got ugly as a nanny dies and the mommies aren’t talking. The pool of suspects was big & I loved questioning all the motives. I didn’t see the end coming and I loved it

  • Deborah C.

    Troy, IL

    Tasha's son doesn't like daycare until one mom invites Tash to a playgroup at her house. He makes friends & becomes happier. But as Tash investigates a murder for an article, startling things come up.

  • Marcy F.

    Perkasie , PA

    My first novel by Katherine Faulkner, but certainly not my last. Compellingly written with loads of plot twists and intriguing characters. I couldn’t stop reading once I started. Highly recommended!

  • Danielle P.

    APO, AP

    Twists on twists on twists! I loved this book! Faulkner really knows how to throw in those red herrings and keep you guessing until literally the last page. I had such a hard time putting this book do

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