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Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

What if your best friend’s child disappears? And it’s all your fault.

This is exactly what happens to Lisa Kallisto – overwhelmed, working mother of three – one freezing December in the English Lakes. She takes her eye off the ball for just a moment and her whole world descends into a nightmare.

Her best friend’s daughter, thirteen-year-old daughter, Lucinda has gone missing and now, devastated by this, and publicly blamed; Lisa sets out to do the right thing.

But as she begins peeling away the layers surrounding Lucinda’s disappearance, Lisa learns that the quiet town she lives in isn’t what she thought it was, and her friends may not be who they appear to be, either. 



‘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

‘Cracking page turner that explores every woman’s second worst nightmare: your child is safe but your friend’s child goes missing on your watch. This is a highly enjoyable read that straddles crime and commercial women’s fiction and has lots of talking points.’ – Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Bookseller, January 2013

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

‘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 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-FlemingNew York Timesbestselling author of One Was A Soldier  

“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, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden

“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

“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 Crouchauthor of Cuckoo

 ‘Paula Daly writes so compellingly and convincingly. . . . A fantastic debut.’ – Carla Buckleyauthor of Invisible

“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 becomes your own.” – Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Touch & Go and Catch Me

“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

“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 Rock Paper Tiger

“A pacy psychological thriller that perfectly captures the voice of a stressed-out working mum.” – Sunday Mirror, 21.04.13

“With crackling dialogue, compelling characters and a page-turning plot about every mother’s worst nightmare – the abduction of a teenage daughter – this is a truly promising debut by daly. She writes with a singular voice and fierce passion that roars off the page, while also displaying a visceral understanding of the betrayals and humiliations of domestic life.” –  Daily Mail

“I loved this book. It’s a page turner from start to finish and one that I struggled to put down.” –  Zoe Lea,, 02.05.13

‘This is a debut novel and it does live up to the hype of not being able to put it down! I couldn’t stop reading until I got right to the end…’ Lakes Mum Book Reviews, 20.02.13

“This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller perfect for fans of Gone Girl or Sister.” – We Love this Book

“Fiendishly addictive as well as perceptive about guilt and social class.” – The Guardian, 24.05.13

 “Paula Daly gets the action moving on the first page. This taut page-turner of a novel….torques every parent’s nightmare.”  –  Anne Kingston, Macleans, 29.04.013

“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

“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)

What elevates this ordinary story is the extraordinary realism of the characters. As we’re pulled into her class-conscious community, we root for Lisa, Joe and justice.’ – Cleaveland Post Dealer (Grade A)

“[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

“It’s almost impossible, if you have a heart of any size, to not get wrapped up right away in Lisa Kallisto’s plight—the overwhelmed parent with a marital secret, too much work, too many pets, three kids, not enough time and not enough money. . . . It is a page-turner.” —Scott Spinelli, Three Guys One Book

“It takes place in Englands Lake District, so Anglophiles should dive into this tale. Sounds like the makings of an edge-of-your-seat movie, too!” – Barrington Courier Review

” we all need a reminder that no woman has it all under control, not even in fiction, where anything imaginable—zombies, vampires and hand-written thank-you notes included—is possible.” – Oprah Fall Reading, 5 Books that will surprise you (more than once.)

“This is a debut novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the characters. I can see both DC Joanne Aspinall and busy mom Lisa appearing in future stories –  and welcome it!” – 

“I flew through this book and couldn’t put it down because it was just compelling and it pulls you through all the way to the end. You’ll love it.” – Strand Update (blog) 

“Daly definitely makes her bones in this first effort. I can’t wait to read her second.!” – 

“Thriller and mystery lovers alike will devour this book.” – Library Journal

“Captivating and insightful, this bone-chilling account of a mother’s descent into hell explores the parameters of love and family, desire and tragedy. Debut novelist Paula Daly’s brilliant narrative will leave readers scrambling to flip pages faster, yet wanting to savour every detail. By luring readers into a world in which the normal rhythm of everyday life collides with unthinkable acts of violence and betrayal, Daly shatters the illusion of an idyllic home life and rebuilds in its place a compelling commentary on the perils and pressures of motherhood. A thrilling read.” —Chatelaine

“Here’s reason for celebration: a first novel that lives up to the billing, with italics and an 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

“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

“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. Set in an unrelenting Cumbrian winter, Paul Daly’s story of a busy mother whose momentary lapse contributes to the abduction of a friend’s child is 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?

“This stunning debut novel from Paula Daly is a breathtaking tale of ostensibly normal lives torn asunder. . . . 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.”—The Midwest Book Review

“This stunning debut novel from Paula Daly is a breathtaking tale of ostensibly normal lives torn asunder. . . . 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.”—The Midwest Book Review

“Anything but predictable . . . a true mystery thriller that takes readers down a circuitous, agonizing path.” —Florida Times-Union

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. . . . [Daly’s] language and insights are both shrewd.” —BookRiot  

“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

“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