Author: Gillian McAllister
Originally Published by Penguin Books in 2018
Review by Miriam Atkinson
Martha’s life is seemingly perfect until her baby daughter Layla dies suddenly whist in the care of her sister Becky. Was it an accident or was it murder? No Further Questions follows the court case as accounts and evidence are presented. The characters and the reader must decide what the truth is…
No Further Questions immediately captivated me and every chapter made me want to continue and read more. This was definitely a novel that I couldn’t wait to get the end of so I could find out what really happened.
The narrator changes from chapter to chapter, which may not be something every reader enjoys. I personally thought the switches were effective. For much of the novel we follow Martha in the present day as she sits though the trial. The perspective then shifts to the current person giving evidence. Chapters told from Becky’s point of view, the person who knows exactly what happened that fateful night, are set in the past. As the story and trial progresses, Becky’s chapters gradually get closer and closer to the time of Layla’s death.
With events told multiple times from different characters points of view the reader, like Martha, is given the opportunity to try and piece together what happened. Also like Martha, I found that I was often changing my mind about whether I thought Becky was innocent or guilty. I always believe that one of the signs of a good crime novel is when the reader is left in suspense about which of their theories is correct until the end of the story.
There were many twists and turns throughout the story and the final reveal is surprising yet still brings the novel to a satisfying conclusion with all questions answered and loose ends tied up.
The only criticism I had was that during Martha’s chapters, as well as talking about the present day, there are also time shifts where she often reminisces about an event from hers and Becky’s past. As Martha’s chapters are written as a stream of consciousness it was not always immediately obvious to me when Martha had jumped to talking about the past. This meant I occasionally had to go back and re-read the previous couple of paragraphs to get my bearings.
This is the first book I’ve read by Gillian McAllister and I really enjoyed it! I’ll definitely be reading more of her novels in future.
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