No Further Questions

No Further Questions

Blurb

You'd trust your sister with your life. But should you?

The police say she's guilty.

She insists she's innocent.

She's your sister.

You loved her.

You trusted her.

But they say she killed the person you care about most.

Martha last saw her sister when she left her babysitting. Now, she's watching Becky stand trial for murder. They are on opposite sides of the courtroom, hearing evidence that's meant to finally bring the truth to light. What happened that night? And does Martha really want to know?


Our Review

I read No Further Questions within a few hours, but it was not an easy read emotionally. As a new mother myself, it was like reading my worst nightmare.

Martha’s daughter Layla was just 8 weeks old when she had to go away on business and leave her with her sister Becky. By the time Martha got home her daughter was already dead.

Now her sister is on trial for murder and Martha has to choose between her daughter and her sister.

No Further Questions was written as a split narrative tale, but the majority of the chapters were written from Martha’s perspective. This had the effect of making the book feel a lot more emotionally raw than it probably would have done otherwise. I felt as though I was feeling everything she was.

The book begins with us learning more about her experience of birth.

“I don’t remember why when they finally handed her to me, but I remember her afterwards: a warm weight in my arms, her head curling surprisingly around my own.”

Our first indication of how close she was to Becky was when we learn she text her between contractions and that she was the only one she text.

For much of No Further Questions the reader will feel torn between the two opposing arguments put forward during the trial.

“The woman who used to WhatsApp me first thing, every single day, without fail. The woman whose eyebrows I plucked on the eve of her wedding, both of us laughing as when they became more and more uneven. The woman who painted my living room with me one Easter weekend. We didn’t stop chatting for the entire four days. My sister. My best friend.

And now: here we are.

Cot death, the defence says – unexplained.

Murder, the prosecution says.

I look across at my sister in the dock. The woman accused of murdering my child.”

The book deals with the weeks preceding Layla’s death as well as the immediate aftermath and the trial.

One of the things I thought the author did particularly well was when she examines the impact of Layla’s death on the whole family not just on Martha, her husband Scott, and Becky. She writes about the impact on their parents, on their brother, on Becky’s husband and on her son Xander.

The most devastating effect for them both was the inevitable strain the trail placed on their relationship.

“It has been nine and a half months since it happened, and nine months since we last saw each other. We were prohibited from speaking from the moment she was charged. We became opposing witnesses. Me for the prosecution and her for the defense. Two sisters carved in two by the justice system. “

Being both a new mother and close to my sister like Martha I still found it hard to put myself in her position because I cannot conceive of any situation where I would believe my sister had done something so terrible not even for a moment. However, the author does a very good job of helping us to see why Martha feels herself a traitor ‘caught in no-mans land between my daughter and my sister.”

One other thing she portrayed well was the way the woman is often blamed in situations like these and the male parental figure is absolved by virtue of being male.

“There are only women in this case. Me. My sister. My daughter. Two female barristers. The almost all-female jury. The witnesses. All women, so far. Mothers, daughters, friends. This tiny world seems to revolve around us. It discards the men. They are not expected to look after their children, and they are not blamed when they don’t.”

Martha blames herself for being away and Scott too for extending his trip. Mostly she blames herself for not being a better mother and goes around and around endlessly thinking of things she believes she didn’t do right for Layla or could have done better.

“And here we are; the culpable parents. The parents who were not there. We’re not in the dock, but we should be.”

This book contains a few twists and turns and the final one was one I had an inkling about fairly early on, but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book.

Finally, although I enjoyed the book immensely It is only fair to warn the potential reader that there are some fairly distressing descriptions of the dead baby within the book.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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