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The New Mother by Nora Murphy


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: May 30th, 2023

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Fiction, Suspense, Adult, Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Drama

Trigger Warnings: Murder, Post Partum Depression, Post Partum Psychosis

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A relatable and nerve-wracking, sympathetic and bone-chilling story — a fresh new twist on motherhood and murder in suburbia.

Isolated. Lonely. Tired. It’s hard being The New Mother. Sometimes it’s murder.

Nothing is simple about being a new mom alone in a new house, especially when your baby is collicky. Natalie Fanning loves her son unconditionally, but being a mother was not all she wanted to be.

Enter Paul, the neighbor.

Paul provides the lifeline she needs in what feels like the most desperate of times. When Paul is helping with Oliver, calmed by his reassuring, steady presence, Nat feels like she can finally rest.

But Paul wants something in return. It’s no coincidence that he has befriended Nat—she is the perfect pawn for his own plan. Will Nat wake up in time to see it?

First Line:

It wasn’t the sort of neighborhood for murder. It was exactly th sort of neighborhood that is comprised the majority of Patuxent County.

The New Mother by Nora Murphy

Natalie is having a hard time adjusting to motherhood. She can’t sleep because Oliver, her son, only wants her and screams if anyone else touches him. Then she meets her next-door neighbor, Paul, and he seems to have the magic touch with Oliver. Soon, they have a close friendship. But things are different from what they seem with Paul. His befriending Natalie wasn’t a coincidence. Paul is setting Natalie up for a crime he committed. What crime did Paul commit? Will Natalie take the fall for it?

Reading this book took me back to my seventeen-year-old daughter’s birth and the months shortly after. I thought I was prepared for her birth and everything after. I wasn’t. I dealt with a horrible birth experience and a newborn/infant who screamed constantly. Unlike Natalie, I thankfully had my family and friends that watched out for PPD. But it was challenging and draining. And, like Natalie, it was a sense of relief when I got answers for why my daughter (Miss B) screamed all the time. She had colic and went nine months with an undiagnosed milk allergy. It took me switching doctors to get that diagnosis. So, yes, I related to this book.

The New Mother is a fast-paced book with dual points of view. The points of view went between the first person (Natalie) and 3rd person (Paul). I wasn’t a massive fan of that, I wouldn’t say I like it when it changes POV, but I did like that I got to see how Paul formulated his plan and how Natalie figured out what he was doing. The pacing for this book fits it perfectly.

The storyline for The New Mother was interesting. It centers around Natalie and her life after having Oliver. Natalie was one of those Facebook-perfect mothers at the beginning of The New Mother. She was going to do everything organic, exclusively breastfeeding and babywearing. I did get a good giggle at how the author initially wrote her. But Oliver wasn’t your typical baby. He had colic and screamed all the time. He hated the sling. And breastfeeding was an awful experience for Natalie. Plus, she started getting depressed and not allowing anyone to hold Oliver but her. In the middle of the book, Natalie is having a rough time. Then Paul swoops in like an angel and helps Natalie. She can sleep and feel like she is her old self around him. But Paul, well, his friendship with Natalie had sinister motives, and the author clarified those motives around the time their friendship deepened. I did call what happened next and everything else after.

As I said above, Natalie was a Facebook-perfect mother. She was one of those mothers who did everything perfectly. I was rolling my eyes whenever she yelled at her husband for bringing nonorganic food into the house. The scene where he bought the swing was a perfect example also. But at the same time, I did feel bad for her. She was struggling. Breastfeeding was hard for her, and she wasn’t expecting it to be painful. Oliver was a difficult baby, and she made it worse by holding him constantly. I called because she had PPD long before it was mentioned in the book. Natalie also wasn’t sleeping, and it was starting to mess with her. I was also a little irritated that no one, mainly her husband, caught on that she was depressed. It was so obvious (well, to me, it was). And it made it easy for Paul to prey on her.

I didn’t like Paul from the beginning. I have nothing against stay-at-home dads (actually, it’s excellent), but how he became one was awful. He had nothing nice to say about his wife, and that was a huge red flag to me when he started bad-mouthing her to Natalie. He just got skeevier and skeevier as the book went on. Poor Natalie didn’t know which end was up with him. The night of the Halloween party and the confrontation after were his doing. He was just a nasty man who did get what was coming to him.

I found the thriller/suspense angle of The New Mother interesting. I liked that the author kept the bad guy (Paul) first and foremost in the book. I loved that I got to see the planning that he did to frame Natalie. Some of it was genius. But, at the same time, I loved it when Natalie figured out what was happening and how she turned everything around on Paul.

The end of The New Mother didn’t quite gel with the rest of the book. The author fast-forwarded a few months and then explained what was happening. I wish that she hadn’t done that. I would have loved to see what she explained written out. I was left feeling meh about it. There was a humorous part of the ending where Natalie’s husband asked if they could have another baby, and she was like, “No, I’ll kill you.” I thought, “You’re having another one, lady.” I said the same thing after Miss B turned one, and then I went on to have two more children.

I would recommend The New Mother to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and nongraphic sexual situations.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and Nora Murphy for allowing me to read and review The New Mother. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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