Best Intentions – Emily Listfield

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Best Intentions falls into the ‘chick lit’ category, but is the first book I have read which successfully manages to combine this with a convincing thriller.

The book begins with Lisa, a mother of two teenage girls, living a busy life in New York. Her happy world starts crumbling around her when she suspects her husband of having an affair. To make matters worse her job becomes under threat when the company she works for is taken over by new management.

One of the best things about the book was that I knew who was going to be murdered from the beginning. I think that the author intended this to be the case, as all her marketing makes it very obvious. The murder doesn’t occur until about 2/3 of the way through, so for the majority of the book I was searching for clues as to what would provoke violence. This is the only book I’ve read where the majority of the detective work is done before the actual crime is committed. I was unsure as to whether to name the murder victim here, so I’ll leave you to make up your own mind. If you’d like to know who is killed then the book’s website lets you know.

The writing is not  fluffy, like many books in this genre, but is intelligent and thought provoking. In many ways it reminded me of Lionel Shriver’s writing style. The main themes are relationships, trust and parenting. There were a lot of sections where I found myself remembering almost identical experiences:

I turn partially around. “Have a yogurt.”
I’ve already had a yogurt.”
I take a deep breath. “All right, One Cookie. Just One.” I distrust any mother who says she never bribes her children.

The characters are all well-drawn, and behave realistically, the slight annoyance being that it is all written in the first person (although I have to admit that I got used to this after a few chapters).

The ending is satisfyingly realistic, but unfortunately I don’t think it could have been predicted using anything other than pot luck, as all the suspects had equally good motives, and as far as I could tell there were no clues hidden earlier in the text.

Recommended.

stars4

This is Emily Listfield’s seventh book. I haven’t read any of her others, but am particularly interested in her last book Waiting to Surface.

Have you read any of her other books?

Are you a fan of ‘chick lit’?


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18 Comments

  1. Kristina says:

    I think this looks really good! I put it on my TBR pile! Thanks for the great review =)

  2. Sandy says:

    I’ve not read any of this author’s books, but I’ve read other reviews of this one, and I think I’d like it. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of chick lit, but I’ve read some books that would qualify and have loved them. It’s just a genre that I couldn’t read every day. It’s interesting that a murder/thriller would also be considered chick lit. That’s a new one on me!

  3. Jackie says:

    I’m not really a fan of ‘chick lit’ as the characters tend to be stupid women with no common sense, who irritate me with their shallow views, and constant man swapping. I used to love it when I was younger, but now I need a bit more from a book.

    This is a great book though. The characters have a bit of intelligence, and the thriller aspect gives it a great twist. I think it was the parenting that really made this book for me though. It’s a nice, light read that helped me escape from all the war and symbolism of the other books I tend to read!

  4. Steph says:

    You have me totally intrigued. This year I’ve discovered several books that were not really “whodunnit”s (or even “towhomdunnit”s), but rather “whydunnit”s, which I’ve found to be just as enjoyable. I think they highlight the whole “the journey can be just as exciting as the destination” principle.
    I don’t exactly have anything against chick lit (though I can’t tell you when I last read any), but this doesn’t even really sound like it to me anyhow. I’m going to put this on the list of books to keep an eye out for.

  5. Dorte H says:

    Usually I am not fond of chick-lit, but chick-lit with a murder in it – that is something completely different :)

  6. Margot says:

    I enjoy a good romance. Is that chic-lit? I like the idea of a good mystery/thriller. That part of this book appeals to me.

  7. I’m not a chick lit fan either but you are right. Her women are not nearly as annoying as usual. In fact I quite liked them. Well some of them.

  8. Jackie says:

    Steph – I think this is ‘chick lit’, although it’s the more grown up variety. The murder mystery section in this is quite a small section at the end, so if you’re not a fan of books about relationships and modern parenting then this probably isn’t for you.

    I’m intrigued by your ‘whydunnit’ books. Which ones can you recommend?

    Dorte – Is that your method of choosing which books get to go on your wish list – no murder – no chance of you reading it?!!! lol!!

    Margot – Yes, I think most romances fall into the chick lit catergory. I do like reading them from time to time. Variety is the spice of life!

    Candy – I liked them too and the only one who was a tiny bit annoying got murdered!

  9. Dorte H says:

    Well, there are other crimes, but I really appreciate a good corpse ;)

  10. I am going to be starting Best Intentions soon, and am really looking forward to it with all the good reviews I’ve read.

    I did read Waiting to Surface and thought it was just ok. I actually found myself enjoying the parts about the magazine more than the missing husband. My review is here.

  11. claire says:

    I’m still a bit iffy on this book, because I had thought it was chick-litty, which I really never enjoyed, though I’ve tried. And then you confirm it, lol. The thriller part is what makes me consider it, though. Hm.

  12. Which is the book that is better than The Little Stranger.

  13. Violet says:

    I didn’t know this was a chick-lit. I am not particularly fond of that genre but I do read it once in a while.
    But this book sounds really good.

  14. Dot says:

    I read this book recently and really enjoyed it too! I have not read anything by Emily Listfield before but I thought this was good and Waiting to Surface sounds interesting as well.

  15. Jackie says:

    Dorte – LOL!!

    Melissa – Your review of Waiting to Surface made the plot sound very similar to Best Intentions – wealthy, educated woman + relationships + crime. I don’t think the issues you mentioned for WTS are present in this book, but I’m interested in your comparison of the two.

    Claire – If you don’t like the odd bit of chick lit then I probably wouldn’t bother with this book.

    Candy – I’ve emailed you!

    Violet – It is a nice distraction from the depths of literary books!

    Dot – Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog for the first time – I’m off to visit yours!

  16. Steph says:

    The “whydunnit”s that I’ve read recently were “The Basic Eight” by Daniel Handler (reviewed on my site), and actually my most recent book “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver (which I know you’ve already read, so it is less helpful to suggest this one!). If you don’t mind dark “black comedies”, then “The Basic Eight” is pretty fun – it’s kind of like the film “Heathers” as a book, in that it’s a dark spoof on teen movies and issues. Given that Handler also goes by Lemony Snickett, perhaps you can see how he might have a somewhat twisted sense of humor.

  17. Jenners says:

    I agree with you that this was not your run of the mill murder mystery but more of a character driven or detailed look at one woman’s life. In fact, in my review, I thought the murder could have been removed from the book and it would have still been good.

    I haven’t read any others by this author but wouldn’t mind doing so!

  18. Jackie says:

    Steph – Thanks for the recommedations – I’ll go and have a look at them now.

    Jenners – I agree, the book could have worked without the murder. I actually found the first section which observed the family much more interesting.

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