Sunday, January 17, 2021

Mother May I - Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson is a good storyteller, and she tells another pretty good story here in Mother May I. The author lives in Decatur, Georgia, and as is usually (always?) the case in one of her novels, the action is set in the Georgia/Alabama geographic area. Mother May I is a crime fiction thriller, but it is one with a not-so-hidden message to mothers and their sons about both the consequences, and the definition, of what constitutes the crime of rape. I hope they are listening.

Bree Cabbat, the book’s central character, lives a life of privilege that only the truly wealthy ever experience. Bree, however, was not born into that lifestyle. Rather, she grew up in small-town Georgia in a single-parent home headed up by a mother who was almost paranoid about the dangers of everyday life for people of their class and means. Bree has never wanted to believe that the world is really the dangerous place her mother still believes it is, and she is quite comfortable, if still a little insecure, in the lifestyle her husband’s money and family background make possible. 


And then she learns the hard way that her mother was right all along. One moment her infant son is safe in his car seat right beside her while she watches her daughter in rehearsal for a school musical; the next time she thinks to look toward her son, he’s gone. She is certain now that the “witch” she saw looking through her bedroom window early that morning was not something she dreamed. The woman was real, and the woman very probably now has her son.


After a note instructs her not to go to the police and warns her that she is being watched, Bree realizes that she will do whatever it takes to get her baby back. Nothing is off the table. But why her? Why has she been targeted this way, and why now? Gradually, it all starts to make sense, and Bree learns exactly what she is capable of doing if it means recovering her son from the mad woman who has him.


Bottom Line: Mother May I begins as a mystery, but as the action builds it becomes more a thriller than anything else. Jackson switches from first person to third person viewpoints as the investigation and action progress and, several times, I had to re-read half-pages to make sure which POV was being used so that I could understand exactly what Bree knew and what she still did not know. The plot proceeds along rather predictable lines, but it ends strongly in a development I did not see coming at all, and that saved the entire novel for me.  3 STARS


Joshilyn Jackson (EV Jackson photo)

Review Copy provided by Publisher

10 comments:

  1. There's quite a few of these thriller type books involving babies or children about right now, just reading about another one, set in Pennsylvania, on someone else's blog. This one is very intriguing and I'm constantly amazed at how authors continue to come up with these unusual scenarios.

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    1. You're right, Cath, in that there's nothing really too original about the premise of this one. I picked up the ARC mainly because I was somewhat familiar with Joshilyn Jackson already and had enjoyed other things she's written.

      This one does have some interesting twists and turns but I found myself staying one step ahead of the developments most of the way.

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  2. This sounds intriguing! Years ago, I read Jackson's blog, before her first book.

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    1. It's one of those Sophie's Choice kind of plots that put the antagonist in a real bind, Jen.

      I've read a couple of Jackson's earlier novels and enjoyed them more than I did this one. They were less the thriller-type than this one, and I'm not a huge fan of "thrillers," so that might explain my lower rating of this one.

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  3. I'm not a fan of switching POVs like that, especially when you can't tell right away which character the narrative just switched too. But at least it had a good ending. :)

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    1. That does happen a few times because the switch between the main character and her "protector" is not always a clear one. But I'm talking, too, about everything being seen through the eyes of the main character and then switching to the all-knowing third person POV to describe what is going on else where. There were a couple of times I had to re-read just to make sure how much the main character knew and how much was being kept from her but being given to the reader. It was kind of clunky sometimes...like a transmission that didn't shift cleanly.

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  4. Hmmm, I do like this author but, I don't like to have to wonder who I'm reading about.

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    1. It may be me, Diane. I don't think so in this case because it happened too many times, but you might not have the same problem with it. My bigger complaint is how predictable it is for about 80% of the way through. And then the final pages are sort of sappy sweet, too.

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  5. I love Jackson's Southern family sagas, but I'm not sure how I feel about her as a mystery/thriller writer. I didn't love NEVER HAVE I EVER, so I'm reluctant to read MOTHER MAY I. I probably will at some point, just to see, but I'm not rushing.

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    1. Me, too, Susan, and I have to say those are much better than this one. Those stand out from the crowd in a way this one can never hope to do.

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