"In this fictionalized account of the Amanda Knox case, journalist Darnton asks the question any parent would dread: Is my child capable of murder?... A fast-paced thriller with the kind of emotional impact that transcends a simple whodunit."—Kirkus Reviews
When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.
A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters.
Journalist Darnton's second novel (after 2011's An African Affair), inspired by the Amanda Knox case, fails to live up to its dramatic premise. Jennifer Lewis is compelled to travel from Philadelphia to Spain because her 20-year-old daughter, Emma, a Princeton student doing a year abroad, has been arrested in connection to another student's murder. Emma's story, which involves an attempted rape and a mysterious, unnamed savior, doesn't ring true to the cops. Emma is furious at her mother. Jennifer's marriage to Emma's father is strained. All of this would be more interesting if the characters and their relationships were rendered with more depth. Because Jennifer and Emma are two-dimensional, their choices and their conflicts are, oddly, both baffling and predictable. One exception is the erotic subplot the attraction between Jennifer and the book's most intriguing character, Roberto Ortiz, a private detective Jennifer hires to help clear Emma. Maybe Roberto will star in Darnton's next novel.