Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in years of reading psychological thrillers. It is a five-star plus Amazon read which I highly recommend. I didn’t even mind paying the full Amazon price of USD 3.99. It has a very different organizational style which almost makes it three novels in one while still having one easily recognized theme and story. The three parts; The Psychopath, The Sociopath, and The Writer, tell one disturbing and twisted story in fifty-two chapters from three points of view. I liked the title of Chapter fifty-two; Chapter One.
I listened to one-third of the book on Audible.com while traveling to and from work. The narration, by Brittany Pressley, Lance Greenfield, and Carly Robins is superb. But the story was so interesting I switched to reading it because I became impatient with the speed of the narration. I read faster than the narrators speak. Yes, there is a handy little button in Audible that allows me to speed up the reading but then the sound would have been distorted. In the 1x narration speed, the story is creepy.
Fig is the psychopath. She is married to George and they had tried to have a child. She blamed the miscarriage on George. Not that he had anything to do with the miscarriage physically, it just seemed to Fig that he got over it quickly, didn’t want to talk about it, and did not pay attention to Fig’s feelings. Luckily, Fig had a series of therapists to help her get over the tragedy. Her favorite therapist convinced Fig that her baby was alive but in another body. When Fig found her baby, their two souls would recognize each other and Fig would able to reclaim her baby and be the good mother she knew she could be.
Jolene is the writer. She has a cute child named Mercy Moo. Living with husband Darius, she has a vaguely defined marital relationship that might be considered an open marriage. But Jolene doesn’t consider it that way. She doesn’t stray and doesn’t want to. She doesn’t want Darius to stray either. She only demands one thing, the truth. What she doesn’t want to really know, what she might know but does not admit, won’t hurt her. She has an interesting new neighbor with an odd fixation that Jolene is slow to notice and even slower to admit. The neighbor, Fig has one fixation Jolene does not know about. Fig has identified Mercy as her lost child and soulmate.
Darius is the sociopath. He might be able to diagnose himself as one since he is a counselor/therapist/psychologist; his credential is a bit unclear. Darius has no interest in self-diagnosis and would never believe himself to be a sociopath. He is too busy dealing with his sex addiction. Among other things, he must conceal his activities from his wife. Then he must conceal his sexual activities with his patients from investigations by ethics boards and police. Darius recognizes that Fig is a psychopath and a danger to Jolene. But he is also fascinated by Fig and the possibilities that the manipulation of Fig might bring to the satisfaction of his addiction.
This is the second novel I have read/listened to by Tarryn Fisher. The first one I reviewed, The Opportunist, was underwhelming. I couldn’t believe I finished it. In that review, I mentioned that Fisher might be a “pendulum” writer who produced both really good and much less-than-good novels. This novel was so much the polar opposite that my view is confirmed but now I have to go read more from her to see where other of her novels fit on the scale of from mediocre to great. Bad Mommy is great.
There are a couple of plot holes here and there but the overall quality of story and writing make it easy for the reader mind to gloss over minor imperfections. There is probably language that is offensive to some, especially females. I found this interesting since the author is female. Her female characters (not Darius the sex addict) use the forbidden “c***” word. No, this does not refer to a male appendage. But, there are female artists such as Sally Fields who have a very different take on the use of the word. I digress.
The three main characters of the novel offer the reader many surprises. There are action events, such as who is doing what to whom but the real surprises come with the development or degeneration of the thinking and minds of the Sociopath and the Writer. Those two characters are developed very well. Darius seems sort of stuck as far as character development but, again, the excellence of the story via the other two main characters make this a very enjoyable and even addictive (sorry Darius) reading experience. Once I switched from Audible to Kindle print, I didn’t stop reading until the end. And the end is simply clever. Not cerebral, but clever.
On to read more Tarryn Fisher novels.