A toxic marriage, a murder trial, and questions about who is and who isn't a good mother are at the center of Tyce's debut domestic thriller.
After 15 years on the job, Alison Wood, a London barrister, is handed her first murder case. Her task is to defend Madeleine Smith, who was found with her clothes covered in blood next to the body of her husband, Edwin. Alison's excited about her case, but she's distracted by excessive drinking with her colleagues and rough and dirty sex with Patrick Saunders, a legendary philanderer and her instructing solicitor in the murder case. Madeleine confesses that she stabbed Edwin, but Alison isn't sure Madeleine's telling the truth. In addition to being an alcoholic, Alison is an unfaithful wife to her husband, Carl Bailey, and a neglectful mother to their 6-year-old daughter, Matilda. When Alison receives a series of anonymous, vulgar, and accusatory text messages, she falls deeper into her toxic habits of using alcohol and sex to avoid dealing with her issues. Carl, a part-time psychotherapist, seems stubbornly determined to ignore the fact that his wife needs help. Some late-breaking revelations almost make Alison slightly sympathetic, but not in time to overcome how dislikable she is. The rushed ending isn't entirely credible or satisfying, as Alison's unethical choices enable her to easily resolve all her problems.
Readers who enjoy wallowing in other people's misery will relish this disturbing story.