Monday 31 December 2018

No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister @GillianMAuthor @PenguinUKBooks #NoFurtherQuestions

The police say she's guilty.
She insists she's innocent.
She's your sister.
You love her.
You trust her.
But they say she killed the person you care about most.

No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister was published by Penguin in paperback on 4 October 2018. My thanks to the author and the publisher who sent my copy for review.

This is the author's third book, I've read all three of her books now and have been a fan from day one. This one is her best, the others are great, but there's such a depth to the writing within No Further Questions and the plot is unlike anything that I've read before; this author has certainly dealt with a subject matter that could be considered fairly controversial and it was brave of her, but she's done with with finesse and skill.

The central theme to No Further Questions is a court case. Becky is accused of the murder of eight-week old Layla. Becky was the baby's nanny; trusted to care for her whilst her parents were working. Little Layla was discovered in her cot one morning. Blue and cold and no longer alive. Initially, Layla's death was assumed to be a cot death, until the results of the post mortem were received. This was not a natural death; Layla had been smothered to death.

Becky was Layla's aunt. The baby's mother Martha is her sister. As sisters they are very different, yet they were so close before this happened. Martha was happily married, she'd just set up a charity; working with refugee children in Kos. Becky was a single mother to eleven-year old Xander, her marriage had broken up, she hated her job. When Martha suggested that she should care for Layla, she was delighted to accept the offer. However, Layla was a bad sleeper and the her constant crying would try the patience of a saint.

Gillian McAllister excels in creating relationships. Her insight into the sibling relationship between Becky and Martha is remarkable, and at no time did I doubt or question how Martha could continue to love and support her sister, despite what she'd been accused of. It's clear from the detailed court scenes that the author has not only done a huge amount of research, but that she's drawn on her own experience as a lawyer.  The structure of the novel is clever, and the reader is introduced to all of the supporting characters, as well as those on the edge that are called as witnesses in the case.

I'll admit that I had worked out what happened to Layla before the big reveal. However, this didn't spoil my enjoyment of this deliciously written and intricate story at all. I may have worked out what happened, but the author's wonderfully sensitive handling of the story almost brought me to tears towards the end. She has such a skill, her writing is so skilled and emotionally charged.

What a fabulous novel. Compelling and utterly heartfelt. Highly recommended.

Gillian McAllister has been writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated with an English degree and lives in Birmingham.

Her debut novel Everything But The Truth was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Anything You Do Say followed in January 2018 and was both a kindle and paperback bestseller. No Further Questions was published in autumn 2018. 

You can find her on Twitter @GillianMAuthor

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