There needs to be a new subgenre of books that describe a book where something mysterious happens but that at the heart of the book is family-centered general fiction. I’ve read many books where a teenage girl disappears but the book is mostly about what is going on in the town vs. a true mystery or investigation.
The Perfect Mother, although it is described oddly as a “thriller” falls into that category. The core of the story is the missing infant of one of the members of a Brooklyn “mommy” group but it is really about a group of women adjusting to motherhood. There is nothing “thrilling” about the book although it is well-paced, there are no car chases, no blood (save one scene) no death-defying feats, no real insights into the investigation. The bulk of the book is the woman worrying about what happened, doing some minor digging into the members of the group but mostly worrying about breastfeeding, their husbands, their careers and the babies themselves.
Do publishers and writers not want to pigeonhole themselves into the mystery category? These books aren’t cozy mysteries–no one is running an inn and finding dead bodies and they aren’t detective stories as we rarely have any idea what the detectives are doing, and I don’t think they are thrillers or suspense either due to their lack of action. Literary mysteries? Domestic mysteries? I lean towards domestic mysteries personally but I am up for suggestions!
The book itself was a good, quick read. It was pretty easy to figure out (there were not that many characters) but it was paced well, had some nice touches and was entertaining which is what I look for in this sort of book. It would have been a great book to take on vacation, interesting but not something you need to pay that much attention too. The descriptions of the NYC parenting scene were pretty spot on, and even the somewhat elaborate and even (in)famous backstories of some of the characters didn’t seem unrealistic as this was, after all, upper middle class, white Brooklyn.