Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

3.9 27
by Paula Daly

View All Available Formats & Editions

Lisa Kallisto—overwhelmed working mother—is the not-so-perfect model of the modern woman. She holds down a busy job running an animal shelter, she cares for three demanding children, and she worries that her marriage isn’t getting enough attention. During an impossibly hectic week, Lisa takes her eye off the ball for a moment and her world descends…  See more details below


Lisa Kallisto—overwhelmed working mother—is the not-so-perfect model of the modern woman. She holds down a busy job running an animal shelter, she cares for three demanding children, and she worries that her marriage isn’t getting enough attention. During an impossibly hectic week, Lisa takes her eye off the ball for a moment and her world descends into a living nightmare. Not only is her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter missing, but it’s Lisa’s fault. To make matters worse, Lucinda is the second teenage girl to disappear within the past two weeks. The first one turned up stripped bare and abandoned on the main street after a horrible ordeal. Wracked with guilt over her mistake, and after having been publicly blamed by Lucinda’s family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. As she begins digging under the surface, Lisa learns that everything is not quite what it first appears to be.

In Paula Daly’s heart-stopping debut novel, motherhood, marriage, and friendship are tested when a string of abductions tear through a small-town community. Gripping and fast-paced, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? introduces an outstanding new thriller writer with a terrifying imagination for the horrors that lurk in everyday lives.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and pitch-perfect characterizations mark British author Daly’s superb debut. Set in the Lake District, where history coexists with economic hardship, the story revolves around two mothers of teenage girls. Perpetually stretched by obligations to family and work, Lisa Kallisto knows she’s partly to blame when Lucinda, the daughter of her friend Kate Riverty, is abducted. Had Lisa properly followed up on the girl’s sleep-over plans with her own daughter, Lucinda’s absence would have been discovered a day earlier. As Det. Constable Joanne Aspinall compares the disappearance to a series of similar unsolved crimes, Lisa battles her self-doubt and tries to save the enviably perfect Kate from crumbling. Daly’s detailed, richly imagined world and surprising plot twists bring fresh life to the familiar theme of child abduction. In the end, the novel is not just an intriguing puzzle but also a nuanced exploration of friendship, motherhood, fallibility, and the mystery of human relationships. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory & Company (U,K.). (Sept.)
Library Journal
Lisa Kallisto is overworked, underpaid, and overwhelmed by life. So when she gets the call from her daughter’s best friend’s mother asking, “The girls okay?,” she automatically responds, “What? Yes, fine.” After all, her daughters are okay. What she doesn’t know (yet) is that her daughter’s best friend Lucinda was supposed to have spent the night at her house. With a rapist on the loose and one girl already abducted, Lisa can’t shake the feeling that it’s her fault another girl is missing. Determined to make things right, she sets out to find Lucinda but soon discovers that things may not be quite as they once seemed. First-time author Daly has crafted a taut, gripping thriller about ordinary suburban life turned upside down. What happens when the ugly truths are revealed from behind carefully constructed facades? What happens to friendships when a tragedy strikes? What happens to the families?

Verdict Thriller and mystery lovers alike will devour this book. Daly has perfected the essence of British suburban life and how easily it can fall apart. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/13; library marketing.]—Cynthia Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Daly's debut novel explores how interpersonal relationships wax and wane following the disappearance of a local child. Lisa Kallisto is one of those overworked, overscheduled mothers who never secure enough sleep at night. After getting her three kids off to school, working all day as the manager of a charitable animal shelter and taking care of her household, she's lucky to get a few minutes to herself. So when her daughter's friend Lucinda turns up missing after she was supposed to spend the night at Lisa's home, Lisa is full of blame and self-loathing. And she's not the only one who finds herself at fault: Most of Lucinda's family, the police and even her own husband, Joe, think Lisa should have paid more attention to what the two young teens were doing. Now, it looks like the kidnapper, who has already abducted one other girl, is at it again, and Lisa is trying to put the pieces together. So is Joanne Aspinall, an investigator with the local police in the small English town where both Lisa's and Lucinda's families live, and Joanne's finding that things are growing more and more curious as the pieces to the puzzle refuse to fit together. Daly has a nice writing style: It's casual, readable and full of natural-sounding dialogue. Readers will like Lisa, the protagonist, but most likely be puzzled at her insistence (and that of others around her) that it's all her fault. That hole in the basic premise doesn't constitute a fatal flaw, but if Daly really wanted Lisa to have her hands dirty, she could have made her part in the proceedings stronger. As it is, readers may find themselves puzzled over the degree of angst and self-recrimination that hovers around Lisa throughout the book. And Joanne, although likable, comes off as weak and sports an irritating habit of turning her phone off, meaning she misses vital calls. The characters and motivations lack balance, but the storytelling and Daly's voice are top-drawer.
From the Publisher

Praise for Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

* Named one of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten Thrillers of Fall ’13
* Chosen as one of O: The Oprah Magazine’s “Five Page Turners That Will Surprise You More Than Once”

“[A] taut novel. . . . We all need a reminder that no woman has it all under control, not even in fiction.” —Andrea Walker, O: The Oprah Magazine (“Five Page Turners That Will Surprise You More Than Once”)

“What elevates this ordinary story is the extraordinary realism of the characters. As we’re pulled into her class-conscious community, we root for [protagonists] Lisa, Joe and justice.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer (Grade: A)

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? has all the right ingredients: cheating spouses, plotting frenemies, sinister fathers, secrets roiling just beneath the surface of everyday domestic life. . . . Her language and insights are both shrewd.” —BookRiot.com

“Daly’s first effort establishes her as a significant player, with gripping prose and a plot moving forward from the first chapter. . . . Deeply unsettling, [with] an ending to leave you reeling. Daly definitely makes her bones in this first effort. I can’t wait to read her second!” —Curled Up With A Good Book

“[Just What Kind of Mother Are You?] is anything but predictable . . . a true mystery thriller that takes readers down a circuitous, agonizing path.” —Florida Times-Union

“One of the most hypnotically gripping books I've read in a long, long time. Masterfully written and utterly unputdownable, this thriller will surprise and astound you with every ingenious twist and turn.” —Tess Gerritsen, NYT-bestselling author of Last to Die

“Riveting! Daly plunges straight into the heart of every parent's worst nightmare with page-turning results. You know this family. You may even be one of these moms. And you will fly through this novel, as their pain, bewilderment, and ultimately determination become your own.” —Lisa Gardner, #1 NYT-bestselling author of Touch & Go and Catch Me

“[A] strong debut . . . fiendishly addictive as well as perceptive about guilt and social class.” —The Guardian

“It’s almost impossible, if you have a heart of any size, to not get wrapped up right away in Lisa Kallisto’s plight. . . . It is a page-turner.” —Three Guys One Book

"Cracking page turner . . . a highly enjoyable read that straddles crime and commercial women's fiction." —The Bookseller

“[An] emotionally complex tale of teenage abduction . . . in Daly's distinctive first novel.” —Publishers Weekly (“Big Books of the Fall”)

“Skillfully working both sides of the street—crime fiction and women’s fiction—debut novelist Daly delivers a highly suspenseful tale. . . . This intriguing blend of suspense tale and domestic drama, which has a number of delicious plot twists, will keep readers riveted. . . . There is also much insight here into the power games that rule both female friendships and the relationships between husbands and wives. First-rate fiction from an outstanding new thriller writer.”—Booklist (starred review)

“A distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and pitch-perfect characterizations mark British author Daly’s superb debut. . . . Daly’s detailed, richly imagined world and surprising plot twists bring fresh life to the familiar theme of child abduction. In the end, the novel is not just an intriguing puzzle but also a nuanced exploration of friendship, motherhood, fallibility, and the mystery of human relationships.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Daly’s debut novel explores how interpersonal relationships wax and wane following the disappearance of a local child . . . The storytelling and Daly’s voice are top-drawer.” —Kirkus Reviews

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? is an intricate, absolutely absorbing account of a series of chilling events that once unleashed will keep the reader riveted to the pages. A grave reminder of the heavy responsibility of being a mother, a wife, a friend. Hypnotic and harrowing right up to the pulse-pounding end. Unforgettable.” —Heather Gudenkauf, NYT and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden

“A crackling good read, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? is a remarkable domestic thriller debut. Fueled by every parent's worst nightmare, Paula Daly takes you for an intense, gritty and heartbreaking roller-coaster ride. A writer to watch.” —Julia Spencer-Fleming, NYT bestselling author of One Was A Soldier

“With crackling dialogue, compelling characters and a page-turning plot . . . this is a truly promising debut by Daly. She writes with a singular voice and a fierce passion that roars off the page, while also displaying a visceral understanding of the betrayals and humiliations of domestic life . . . With a sharp, double-twist ending, it announces Daly as a potential star, and one with the courage to take risks.” —Daily Mail (UK)

“This taut page-turner of a novel, set in England’s fabled Lake District, home to twee villages, Beatrix Potter bunnies, and dreamy Wordsworth poetry, torques every parent’s nightmare . . . Daly has a gift for realistic, snappy dialogue . . . This story is as much about cornering a criminal as it is about aiming a light on the human knack for acquiring martyr complexes, an affliction that sticks to all the characters in varying degrees.” —Maclean’s

“A pacy psychologival thriller that perfectly captures the voice of a stressed-out working mum.” —The Sunday Mirror

“Here’s reason for celebration: a first novel that lives up to the billing, with italics and asterisk, page-turner! . . . Daly describes the crimes and the characters with prose that never pauses for breath and leads us through stunning mini-climaxes until we reach the big whammo.” —Toronto Star

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? is the very definition of a page-turner – the sort of book that causes you to lose half a day without even noticing. Savour every page, because this will probably be your book of the year. With characters so real they can’t possibly be made up, it’s a brilliant, thrilling story of friendship, families and the sort of terrifying betrayal that can only happen to those closest to us.” —Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner

“A terrifying story that strips away all our preconceptions about love, loyalty, and friendship. Paula Daly writes so compellingly and convincingly about one mother’s descent into the darkest of places, that we can’t help but be dragged along with her. A fantastic debut.” —Carla Buckley, author of Invisible

“I read the book in just a few hours, gripped by the believable characters and switchbacks of the plot. Everyone will recognize the dilemmas in this book and hold their breath for the finale.” —Claire McGowan, author of The Fall and Director of the CWA

"A unique and utterly gripping thriller. Lisa Kallisto is a very real character, thrown into a situation we've all had nightmares about. A compelling read." —Alison Gaylin, bestselling author of Into the Dark

“Paula Daly's finely-wrought debut thriller deals with overburdened working women who are doing their best but are in danger of being swamped by the conflicting demands being placed upon them. Daly's characters are well-drawn, complex individuals who oftentimes are not what they seem to be, and her small-town settings seethe with twisted dynamics lurking just below the bucolic surfaces.” —Lisa Brackmann, author of Hour of the Rat and Rock Paper Tiger

“An assured and nail-biting debut which gives an authentic portrayal of modern family life and the pressures of being a working mother. Daly writes eloquently about an ordinary family plunged into a nightmare and sets her story in the wintry landscape of the English Lakes. A tense and satisfying read.” —Cath Staincliffe, author of Split Second and Dead to Me

“A terrifically assured debut—a compelling read with a wholly appealing protagonist and great doses of humor along with the suspense.” —Kathleen George, author of Simple and The Odds

“This is a superb debut novel, which engages the reader from the first page and doesn't let up until the final twist at the very end. An unsettling portrayal of just how easily lives can unravel amid the pressures of modern life. Close the curtains, stoke up the fire and prepare for an excellent read.” —Diane Janes, author of Why Didn’t You Come for Me?

“I read it all in one sitting. It's unputdownable: exactly the kind of book I love—a slow burning psychological suspense with lots of twists. As well as being full of suspense, it is rich in domestic detail and brilliantly examines the pressures that working parents—specifically working mothers—are under to be perfect in every way. Particularly satisfyingly I didn't see the end coming until the moment it appeared.” —Julia Crouch, author of Cuckoo

Read More

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
I've been Lisa Kallisto. The mom who has said yes to too many things. Only after agreeing to just about everything, I soon find I can't handle hardly anything. This is Lisa. She wants to be a good mother, she wants to be a great mother and I believe is trying to compete without realizing it (don't we all on some level). She simply has to many balls in the air, I've been there. She needed to make a phone call--one simple phone call, but she simply got busy with life and didn't. The phone call she didn't make leads to the abduction of her daughter's best friend, Lucinda, a young thirteen year old girl. Lucinda's mother is a good friend of  Lisa's. How do you apologize--how do you live with that? You are responsible for a young girl gone missing. Reading this almost seemed like a mission. I wanted to get it read and by reading it maybe Lucinda would make her way home. I know this sounds silly, but I couldn't put this book down. I wanted her home. I wanted everything to be ok, I wanted that sense of, "oh my goodness I can relate to Lisa--but I don't want to think about that" to end. The novel is told with alternating perspectives of Lisa, Detective Joanne Aspinall, and a few small chapters of a dark voice that made my skin crawl. Detective Joanne is very different than Lisa. She is very cautious and meticulous. The two different perspectives really worked well with moving the novel forward as these two women try to put the pieces of what happened to Lucinda together. I felt this was a can't put down thriller. With each passing chapter I felt like I knew even less that I did before-and I loved that I had no idea how this would end. And let me tell you I was not prepared for the ending! Be ready for staying up late to read this one! I am highly recommending.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
This stunning debut novel from Paula Daly is a breathtaking tale of ostensibly normal lives torn asunder. Lisa Kallisto, who runs an animal shelter, lives in a small village holding 260 houses in the English Lake district. Just a few days before Christmas, her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter disappears, and the only thing more horrifying to Lisa is the fact that it appears to have been her fault. The author makes palpable the guilt which wracks the overworked and overwhelmed mother of three. And apparently this is not the first adolescent girl in the area to have been kidnapped, nor is she the last. As Lisa says: “There is nothing as bad as a missing child. Nothing at all.” The investigation is headed up by D.C. Joanne Aspinall of the CID. Both women are in their late thirties, and the author focuses much of the book on these two women, wonderfully well-drawn, as are the other characters. The book is not as dark as one might expect, dealing as it does with such perverted acts. It is certainly suspenseful. Not edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, perhaps, at least until Day 4. As the tale comes to a close, what came to mind was my mother’s old adage: One never knows what goes on behind someone else’s closed doors. And everyone has a secret (or two). I read this book in a little more than 24 hours, and it is highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't say enough good things about this book. Daly nails the voices of people living in a small rural community and dealing with a child predator. The twists were novel and fresh. I can't wait to see what Daly puts out next. Highly recommended.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
A top shelf, riveting and powerful debut novel, Just What Kind of Mother Are You, by British author Paula Daly is a compelling novel—a read for every woman, living a harried lifestyle, trying to balance work, home, and family. Filled with humor and emotion, this book will keep you turning into the night, for a mix of suspense, mystery, thriller, family drama, crime, and women’s fiction. Set in the Lake District, with economic hardship, and busy families, centered on two mothers of teenage girls. Lisa and taxi driver husband, Joe live a hectic life, struggling financially, where Lisa tries to balance her stressing job managing the local dog shelter, a non-profit, even checking out the homes of animals to be placed, running her home, and juggling the kids. When her daughter's friend Lucinda turns up missing after she was supposed to spend the night at Lisa's home, Lisa is wrecked with guilt and blame. There is drama and suspense coming from every direction, not knowing who can be trusted. The lengths one mother will go in order to keep her family. As tragedy strikes, what comes next is shocking as nothing is as it appears—when ugly truths are uncovered. Thriller and mystery lovers alike will devour, as well as fans of highly charged subjects, mixed with humor: JoJo Moyes, Liane Moriarty, Carla Buckley, Diane Chamberlain, Sarah Pekkanen, Amy Hatvany, and Jennifer Weiner will appreciate the humor and complexity! The audiobook was outstanding, as the narrator, Laura Brattan offered an excellent performance, and found myself laughing out loud, at some of the one-liners. Looking forward to reading Daly’s latest novel, “Keep Your Friends Close”, Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year. Daly has made it to my favorite author list and one readers will want to follow! Well- developed characters, excellent plot planning, and fast-paced action, making for a winning debut of motherhood, friendship, and complex relationships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the type of book that draws you in as if you're living it. Although I am not a big reader of mysteries, this one really captured nmy attention. List of twists and turns that keep you guessing just what the ending is going to be.
SpeedSD More than 1 year ago
GREAT READ! This is a different perspective on a horrifying event. In this very hectic day and age, horrible things have happened to children that have been forgotten by a parent in one way or another (left in the back of a car, left at the daycare, etc. etc.). How horrible it would be to happen to your own child..... but what if you forgot you were responsible for another person's child? This was an edge-of-your seat read for me. There were lots of twists and turns, and an ending that I didn't see coming. It kept me up till the wee hours of the morning as I just had to see what turned up next. Thanx so very much Ms. Daley for an excellent read. Cannot wait to see what you come up with next. -- SPeeD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First time I have read anything from this author . Will continue to purchase any of her books
SharonDG 20 days ago
A fast-paced and engaging thriller, this book is a fun read in many ways. Being in Lisa's head as she goes through the self-doubts and the blame surrounding Lucinda's disappearance is painful and believable. The characters are well-developed although none is particularly likeable. The story has a number of exciting twists and turns but the ending, while clever, seemed a little too contrived. Nevertheless I would recommend this book as a good quick read.
MargoH 4 months ago
When I first saw the title of this book, I assumed it was either another self-help book or an Erma Bombeck–style humor book. However, it is a real novel with considerable substance and an absorbing plot. Set in northern England’s Lake District, the main character, Lisa Kallisto. mother of three in a family with limited income, thinks of herself as largely a failure as a mother, wife, and homemaker. On the other hand, she regards her best friend Kate, besides being well-to-do, as doing everything right. Kate’s13-year-old daughter disappears, apparently abducted and raped like two other 13-year-old girls in the area, and Lisa blames herself because she feels she could have prevented it. The novel has an intriguing plot that kept me turning pages right up until the end. The ending is surprising and for the most part a happy one. I felt, however, that the plot suffers a bit by requiring that the resolution of the mystery depends too much on many highly improbably coincidences. Also, a bit too much space is given to descriptions of things that seem to have nothing to do with the plot, such as for example, an account Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall’s encounter with her physician when attempting to schedule breast-reduction surgery. (The reason in this case becomes a bit more understandable from the author’s note at the end of the book: Her major reason for writing this particular novel is to illustrate her belief that women are under too much stress to perform as wives and mothers in today’s culture and are thus prone to have inferiority complexes.) Because many of the characters in the story are seriously dysfunctional people, I felt a bit unsettled by the story and its outcome. However, it is a good book and is worth the money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
booksnoopks More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book up to a point. It was great up until the end when it seemed the author ran out of steam.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lakraft More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. This is the type that keeps you guessing through the entire book just to find out at the end that there was absolutely no way you could ever have figured this one out! I was shocked with the ending but still pleased. A great read for anyone that enjoys a good mystery!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sonfollower More than 1 year ago
Very good, but two plot aspects involving the main protagonist seemed a bit contrived. I would still highly recommend it; good twists and I definitely wanted to find out what was going on!
Anonymous 7 months ago
In this case the plot we dont really care her respobsibilities are to her children first
kathyKNY More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, however, it is not a favorite. I thought the idea was great, but in my opinion it could have been writen better. The author added a few details that were not necessary, and then left out details where I felt they needed to be added. I did enjoy the book and I read it quickly, I wanted to see how it ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im married to slasher now