Joanne's identical twin daughters, Maggie and Annie, are suspected of horrible crimes, but are they really guilty? From the opening pages, Maggie appears to be the most dangerous, but Annie is keeping secrets and harboring plenty of anger. Don't put your allegiance in any one basket. That will shift during the course of this haunting tale of death and betrayal. Told in alternating diary form, the narrative delivers both as a classic Victorian novel and yet again as a contemporary chiller. Author JW Lawson evokes echoes of the classic horror-suspense-thriller, The Other, winding up suspense through cutting interiority and the closely held secrets of its players, but Mummy's Little Angel still manages to capture the flaws and, yes, the fragility of humanity. The well-crafted unreliable narrators are confessing in the subtext, but the story is bold and original.
1. The Diary
I have no idea what prompted me to start this diary. Why today, the 12th March 2034?
Could it be that something external encouraged me to write? After all, I was cleaning the study earlier and decided to organise all my old paperbacks. I cleared out dozens of worn books, others that were simply dusty, some that were complete rubbish and some that used to make me smile – back then. Back before everything happened... back before the murders.
Subconsciously I must have scanned most of them before I gathered the books and organised them into clearly labelled cardboard boxes. Some were earmarked for charity shops, others for eBay, then the remaining few were placed into an anonymous box; a container that I couldn’t work out what to do with but will someday. I must have noticed Bridget Jones’s Diary there. Or maybe I didn’t. I have missed so many obvious indicators and warning signals over the years; another one to add to the list doesn’t surprise me in the least.
I put aside the very first baby-book Jeff and I purchased. Inside it, I study the first scan we had of our babies. A mass of cells, protected within the warm confines of my womb which looks so innocent. One egg and one tiny sperm created my babies; our identical twins. So how was one born a psychopath?
I toss the book into the ‘rubbish’ pile and now, I’m here, sitting in a dimly lit room, in a snug, fluffy pair of pyjamas, typing. I have a cold cup of tea resting on the beautiful antique desk that belonged to him, along with a half-eaten sandwich. I can’t bring myself to finish it. I have no appetite these days.
It’s eerily quiet and I’m uncomfortable with the silence. All I can hear is the tapping of the keyboard and, if I stop and listen very carefully, I can hear my breathing. It’s shallow, yet my heart is racing. I’m sure there is a simple explanation for this although, like so much else, I’m not an expert on physiological matters either. My husband used to train his heart to slow down when he tried to sleep. He would take long, deep breaths and sometimes I would panic as his breathing had slowed so much that I feared he had passed away. I wish I could do that; pass away, that is. I’m so lonely now. Now that my girls have gone, life really isn’t worth living any more. I have nobody other than Robert. I have nothing, yet, I am still here typing this ridiculous diary that nobody will ever read.
My attention is wandering again; sorry. When I was tiny, my granny used to describe me as having a butterfly mind. I didn’t understand what she meant at all and I would simply imagine a butterfly, drenched in vibrant colours, fluttering through my head. I can vaguely understand now what she meant; thought processes washing through my mind, jumping from one thought to another like a butterfly flicks between flowers, gathering the sweet nectar. Here I go again! My thoughts are going off at a tangent and I need to begin my diary.
As she used to say, I have so much to do and so little time.
How I miss her.
And how I miss Jeff.
Why did you kill your daddy? Why did you hate him so much?
* * *
They say that redheads have bad tempers.
Some of them do.
* * *
My shrink told me to start writing this journal months ago. I don’t really want to, but I’m so very bored. There’s nothing to do here; there’s just the usual noise that comes with everyday life, the monotony of routine that involves the basics for survival. I eat, I drink, I breathe, I sleep and I get on with my life as best as I can; that’s a brief analysis of my existence.
My existence, as it is at present, allows me time to reflect on the past. I have hours to spare and I think deeply very often, but somehow, when I meet him for my evaluations, I don’t want to talk. If I’m honest, I hardly listen to a word he is saying. He is boring, not intentionally; however, all he ever does is talk about them. I want to talk about me, but he feels I should discuss the others, in order to identify why things happened in the past. I’m not the psychologist. He is. Yet, again and again, like a long-playing record, he asks the same questions repetitively - the same old song with the same old lyrics.
When eventually he starts to ask me about my feelings, I really can’t be bothered. I just stare at him blankly, pretending to be some indignant and defiant woman who really doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything. I fill with apathy and clam up, just like Mum does. I don’t like him at all. “Trust him as far as you can spit,” my mum would say. And that’s how it will remain. I trust nobody, and never will.