Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Gillian McAllister’s latest novel, ‘No Further Questions’. I was lucky enough to take part in the blog tour for this book, which you can find here. I ended up loving the book, so I just had to review it in full for you! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
The police say she’s guilty.
She insists she’s innocent.
She’s your sister.
You loved her.
You trusted her.
But they say she killed your child.
Who do you believe?
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Includes repeated references to a crime involving the death of a baby. Includes references to fertility problems and difficulty conceiving. Explores the theme of substance abuse, especially alcoholism.
‘No Further Questions’ was released on 2nd July 2018 as an early eBook, with the paperback copy due to be released on 4th October 2018. McAllister is the author of two other previous novels: ‘Everything But The Truth’ (2017) and ‘Anything You Do Say’ (2017). McAllister now lives in Birmingham with her boyfriend, and is a lawyer as well as a writer.
‘No Further Questions’ has received lots of positive praise, from the likes of authors Liz Lawler: “The verdict – lock me up so I can read it again!”, Paula Daly: Gillian McAllister uses her inside knowledge of the law to produce a truly original thriller that you won’t be able to put down”, Holly Seddon: “One of the most gripping and moving books I’ve ever read” and Claire Douglas: “An original, beautifully written and moving story about sisters that had me racing through the pages”.
‘No Further Questions’ follows the lives of Martha and Becky. Martha’s baby unfortunately died, and Becky is on trial for her murder. Martha can’t believe that Becky would have murdered her child…but did she really know her at all?
The narrative is told in the first-person perspectives of Martha, Becky, and all the witnesses. It mainly switches from Martha and Becky, but when a new witness is called to the stand to recollect their experiences of the night Layla died, their perspective is also included. The narrative is told in both the present day (split into days reflecting the ongoing trial) and the past (some flashbacks are included). This narrative structure is fairly complex, but is still easy to follow in my opinion.
Martha is my favourite character in the novel. Her baby has been cruelly taken from her, and she is left wondering why. She is doing her best to move on with her life, but it soon becomes clear that this isn’t possible until she learns the reason behind Layla’s death. She was very close to her sister Becky and would have done anything for her. At the beginning, she protests her sister’s innocence, but understandably she soon begins to have her doubts. Martha has suffered greatly, and I felt a great deal of sympathy towards her. She’s a very realistic and relatable character.
Becky is another fantastically-written character. She’s definitely not perfectly and she has a lot of flaws. Martha trusts her to look after Layla, and she can’t cope with the fact that she let her down. Becky has a child of her own whom she loves dearly, but at times she can be selfish and she puts her own needs before her family’s. Becky loves her sister so much, and all she wants to do is make things right. Becky is a really original character, and I really enjoyed reading the events as told from her perspective.
Martha’s husband Scott is a kind-hearted, lovely character. He’s obviously wracked with grief, and his and Martha’s marriage understandably suffers as a result of their loss. Scott wants to do anything he can to make Martha happy, and he always has her best interests at heart. Becky unfortunately separated from her husband Marc, but he’s still there for her throughout all the bad times. They talk regularly and share the responsibility of looking after their son Xander. Marc still loves Becky dearly, but perhaps their marriage is damaged beyond repair.
Other characters in the novel include: Xander (Becky and Marc’s son), Martha and Becky’s parents, Harriet (the defence lawyer), Ellen (the prosecuting lawyer), and various witnesses and experts that are called to testify. All of the characters bring something fresh and exciting to the novel, and all are definitely needed to tell the story.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel is centered around a terrible crime involving the death of a baby, so it is to be expected that there are many references to aspects such as the babies’ deceased body, the manner of death, and particularly asphyxiation. The novel also makes references to fertility problems, including issues with conceiving children. The novel finally explores the theme of substance abuse, in particular alcoholism. All of these issues are explored in much detail and with appropriate sensitivity, but if you may find any of these issues distressing, I suggest you skip this book.
The novel motors onwards, as does the trial, as the legal teams work to uncover the cause behind Layla’s death. As more and more details about the case are revealed, it becomes really difficult to determine the verdict, and determine whether Becky is innocent or guilty. It’s very difficult for the reader to determine who is telling the truth, and which characters they should be trusting. Will they ever find out the truth behind Layla’s death?
So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s a really shocking reveal, which totally changes the entire course of the novel. I definitely didn’t see that coming! There’s no action-packed final scene, but rather a shocking reveal of the truth. The pieces of the puzzle finally fit together, and suddenly everything makes sense.I thought the ending was really good, and I can guarantee you won’t see it coming!
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy courtroom dramas or legal thrillers. The majority of this book takes place in the courtroom, so don’t expect lots of action or adventure. The characters are fantastic, the plot is very carefully planned out, and the end reveal is completely shocking! My criticism with this book is that it don’t quite have the “wow” factor that McAllister’s other novels had, but that may be due to the fact that I usually prefer psychological thrillers to courtroom dramas. But I’m still really glad I read it, and many of my readers could absolutely adore this book!
Happy reading 🙂