THE BAD DAUGHTER by Joy Fielding


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In the aftermath of a horrific crime, an LA psychologist confronts her own family dysfunction.

Robin, a newly minted therapist, suffers from panic attacks and a serious patient deficit. After a frantic call from her estranged sister, Melanie, informing her that their father’s much younger second wife, Tara, has been shot and killed, Robin returns to her remote hometown, Red Bluff, California. Their father, Greg, a wealthy developer, and Tara’s 12-year-old daughter, Cassidy, were also shot and are hospitalized. Greg’s highly conditional love has scarred both Melanie and Robin, and his many affairs, they feel, hastened their mother’s death. If that wasn’t bad enough, Greg stole Tara, Robin’s best friend, from his son Alec, to whom she was engaged, and showered on Cassidy the affection denied his daughters. Melanie still resents Robin because she got away, whereas Melanie was trapped in Red Bluff by her low paying job, lack of education, and, not least, her autistic son, Landon. The sisters are hounded by Sheriff Prescott, who’s grasping for suspects. The only eyewitnesses are Greg, who is comatose and moribund, and Cassidy, who has been mute for several days. Suddenly, though, Cassidy talks, revealing that two muscular men wearing ski masks had entered Greg and Tara’s newly completed mansion and attacked the family. Melanie’s sardonic sniping and rueful quips (as entertaining to the reader as they are annoying to all around her) aren’t helping, nor is Landon’s slacker friend, Kenny, who keeps dropping by to inquire about Cassidy. Greg’s condition poses another quandary: who will take custody of Cassidy? Robin’s attorney boyfriend, Blake, arrives to allay Robin’s suspicions about his infidelities and to lend his legal skills to the investigation, as Prescott targets Alec and even Landon as persons of interest. So expert is Fielding at seeding clues that readers will never see the final plot twist coming. The acutely portrayed family dynamics lend pathos and a certain schadenfreudian frisson to the proceedings.

An author who knows her way around suburban angst.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-399-18152-8
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2017


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