The Perfect Mother

Nina Darnton. Plume, $16 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-14-219673-1
Journalist Darnton’s second novel (after 2011’s An African Affair), inspired by the Amanda Knox case, fails to live up to its dramatic premise. Jennifer Lewis is compelled to travel from Philadelphia to Spain because her 20-year-old daughter, Emma, a Princeton student doing a year abroad, has been arrested in connection to another student’s murder. Emma’s story, which involves an attempted rape and a mysterious, unnamed savior, doesn’t ring true to the cops. Emma is furious at her mother. Jennifer’s marriage to Emma’s father is strained. All of this would be more interesting if the characters and their relationships were rendered with more depth. Because Jennifer and Emma are two-dimensional, their choices and their conflicts are, oddly, both baffling and predictable. One exception is the erotic subplot—the attraction between Jennifer and the book’s most intriguing character, Roberto Ortiz, a private detective Jennifer hires to help clear Emma. Maybe Roberto will star in Darnton’s next novel. Agent: Kathy Robbins, Robbins Office. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/08/2014
Release date: 11/25/2014
Genre: Fiction
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