Janie Jackson has been released from prison on a technicality after spending ten years locked up for her mother’s murder Her mother’s murder was committed when Janie was just seventeen, a socialite, spoilt rich girl whose reason for living was to feel superior to everyone around her and now released from prison she is determined to find the truth, but Janie can’t really remember anything excepts snippets from that night. Ever resourceful she uses these fragments of information to carry out extensive research while in prison and by the time she is released thanks to her faithful lawyer Noah she has a plan.
I’m sure there are those for whom getting out of prison is a whole, like, Beethoven’s Ninth sort of thing. Rousing, joyous, accompanied by a choir. But for me – for most of us, I’d guess – it was more like Beethoven’s Fifth. We’re too busy being taken aback by the sheer size and scope of things to do anything but lose our minds a little, like the first time you go to a grocery store and realize there’s more than one kind of Wheat Thin.
Told in the main part by Janie, a girl with a wicked turn of phrase but not someone I would choose as a friend, we visit a small town in America, Ardelle, which Janie is sure will provide some answers to Marilyn’s life before she died. Here she meets a bunch of very strange characters including a policeman and bunch of very odd women who are all involved in putting on a historical event. Janie has to keep her cover, the media are busily trying to track her down and Trace her chief hater and prolific blogger is also on her trail.
There are excerpts from interviews, texts to her lawyer Noah and letters which slice through Janie’s sarcastic dialogue. To put it bluntly if you have to like the protagonist in a book, Dear Daughter is probably not the book for you, however I could amuse myself by sniggering at some of her comments and although at times I felt occasionally felt some sympathy for her, those moments were fleeting.
His arms were lean and muscled and covered in a thicket of tattoos he’d probably copied from a mixed-martial-arts magazine.
She was just thin enough to let you know she gave a shit, like she probably shaved her bush every once in a while, but she wasn’t so thin that she could be exacting about things like coming during sex. She was a lazy man’s woman. A rainy day in the dark kind of woman.
This is a reasonably fast paced plot with all sorts of clues to Marion’s origins barely covered due to the loose-lipped residents of the small town which has a long memory. I was keen to know more and the pages turned faster and faster as Janie discovered more about her mother’s past, but I did wonder more than once how this was going to help her discover what happened on the night of the murder. The reveal was almost an understatement until bang we were at the finish line and I was sad to say goodbye to Janie.
I’d like to thank the publishers Random House UK for allowing me to read this startling novel in return for this honest review. Dear Daughter was published on 14 August 2014