#Review “A Mother’s Lie” by Jo Crow

a Mother's Lie Audio cover

Audiobook Blast on October 2, 2018


3.5/5 Stars!

Desperation leads Clara McNair to return to the small town where her reputation is less than stellar and she’s believed to be a murderer.

Clara left Hickory Hills, North Carolina under suspicion ten years ago after the disappearance of her parents.

Now a college-educated single-mom, Clara is desperate to raise the money for her terminally ill son’s treatment and agrees to a documentary back in her hometown about her parents’ disappearance as the tenth anniversary approaches.

However, their “disappearance” becomes murder when Richard and Glenda McNair’s remains are found on the property of their estate—and show signs of having been buried so someone dug them up to place the remains on the property.

And daughter, Clara McNair is the number one suspect. Still.

Barring evidence at a crime scene that points in a different direction, law enforcement always looks at those closest to the victims first… family, so I have no issue with a then-eighteen-year-old Clara being investigated but I am concerned that she’s still a prime suspect.

Children can and do kill their parents, however, I had a hard time suspending belief that an eighteen-year-old, rebellious, wild child out-smarted an entire police investigation. The McNairs went missing in 2007 and forensics were used in every area of police investigations. Is Hickory Hills anywhere near Mayberry? Is Detective Tony Elkins actually Barney Fife?  If Clara McNair was the killer, would she dig up her parents’ remain and plant them in her former home to incriminate herself and pick at old wounds that have never healed?

Clara has no one except James, her two-year-old son, and a bizarre clause in her grandfather’s estate will not allow her to sell home or property. The documentary is her last chance to make the money for the experimental treatment which could save her baby from the fatal brain tumors.

An old friend from the past reaches out to help Clara and give her some respite. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch or unconditional friendship. Clara’s already tumultuous life spirals out of control and she could lose her freedom, her son, and her life.

Excellent plot twists! I figured out the first one but didn’t see that second one coming! Forensics did flash through my mind again though because even the most out-of-date law enforcement agencies have access to crime scene support.

Some interesting characters pass through A Mother’s Lie, but it’s the town itself which is the most interesting. Their hatred of Clara runs as hot and deep as it did ten years ago. They don’t just believe her a murderer, but the disappearance of Richard McNair brought the downfall and closure the McNair Furniture Factory—the area’s largest employer—so Clara McNair is also blamed for the economic hardships visited on Hickory Hills.

Though she takes the town’s rejection and verbal abuse in stride, Clara is at wit’s end when events begin to escalate and it’s obvious she… and James are in danger. She spends too much time in her own head and makes the world’s worst decisions. Even though the Mayberry, er, I mean Hickory Hills police department couldn’t even consider a suspect other than Clara, she missed many opportunities to help herself.

To be fair to Clara though, everyone in this story is hiding something or lying and it does hinder Clara looking into her own past. But when a ten-year-old mystery turns into a twenty-year-old coverup, Clara’s sanity could be yet another casualty in Hickory Hills.

Help does come from an unlikely source when Clara needs it most, but crazy people can be counted on to make mistakes and get too cocky.

I reviewed the audiobook version of A Mother’s Lie. While the narrator did a wonderful job with inflections, emotions, and different characters, I personally feel her voice is too soft for Clara McNair and even when Clara was angry, she sounded weak. I must confess here I also purchased the book and highlighted and re-read certain scenes for clarity in my mind.

Fans of mysteries and psychological thrillers will find an enjoyable read in A Mother’s Lie.




A Mother's Lie by Jo Crow

When her child’s life is at stake, a mother will do anything to save him.

Clara McNair is running out of time to save her son, James. When the two-year-old is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, only an experimental treatment can save his life. She desperately needs money to pay for the surgery, but she’ll have to travel back to the site of her darkest memories to get it.

Clara has escaped the demons of her youth—or so she thinks. It’s been ten years since the mysterious disappearance of her parents. Widely suspected of murdering her mother and father, Clara fled west to start a new life. Now, a documentary film crew is offering cold, hard cash—enough to pay for James’s treatment—in exchange for the sordid secrets of her past.

With no other choice but to delve into a long-ago tragedy, Clara must unravel the lies surrounding that terrible night. Facing hostile gossip, Clara is fighting to clear her name and learn the truth about what really happened. But how far will she go into the dark to save her son—and herself?

Click Here to get your Audiobook copy of A Mother’s Lie, today!

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published by: Relay Publishing
AudioBook Release Date: April 23, 2018
AudioBook Length: 9 hrs and 59 mins
ISBN: 978-1979295420
Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | Goodreads


Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Dense red clay was pushing between the teeth. Pond mist drifted across the manicured lawns, wisping through the dark eye sockets. Parts of the cranium were shaded a vile yellow-brown where decomposing leaves clung to its surface like bile expressed from a liver. The jawbone was separated from the skull, its curved row of teeth pointing skyward to greet the rising sun.

Two feet away, closer to the oak tree, other bones were piled haphazardly: a pelvis, high iliac crests and subpubic angle. A femur, caked with dirt, jammed into his empty skull. Sunlight decorated the brittle bones in long, lazy strips and darkened hairline fractures till they blended with the shed behind them.

It was peaceful here, mostly. The pond no longer bubbled, its aerator decayed by time; weed-clogged flowerbeds no longer bloomed—hands that once worked the land long ago dismissed. Fog blanketed the area, as if drawn by silence. Once, a startled shriek woke the morning doves and set them all into flight.

It was the first time in ten years the mammoth magnificence of the Blue Ridge Mountains had scrutinized these bones; the first song in a decade the morning doves chorused to them from their high perch.

A clatter split apart the dawn; the skull toppled over as it was struck with another bone.

In a clearing, tucked safely behind the McNair estate, someone was whistling as they worked at the earth. The notes were disjointed and haphazard, like they were an afterthought. They pierced the stillness and, overhead, one of the morning doves spooked and took flight, rustling leaves as it rose through the mist.

A shovel struck the wet ground, digging up clay and mulch, tossing it onto the growing mound to their left. The whistling stopped, mid note, and a contemplative hum took its place.

Light glinted on the silvery band in the exposed clay—the digger pocketed it—the shovel struck the ground again; this time, it clinked as it hit something solid.


A hand dusted off decayed vegetative matter and wrested the bone from its tomb. Launching it into the air, it flew in a smooth arc, and crashed into the skull like a bowling pin, scattering the remains across the grass. With a grunt of satisfaction, the digger rose and started to refill the hole from the clay mound.

When it was filled and smoothed, and the sod was replaced over the disrupted ground, the digger lifted the shovel and strolled into the woods, one hand tucked in a pocket as they whistled a cheery tune lost to the morning fog.


Excerpt from A Mother’s Lie by Jo Crow. Copyright © 2017 by Jo Crow. Reproduced with permission from Jo Crow. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Jo Crow

Jo Crow gave ten years of her life to the corporate world of finance, rising to be one of the youngest VPs around. She carved writing time into her commute to the city, but never shared her stories, assuming they were too dark for any publishing house. But when a nosy publishing exec read the initial pages of her latest story over her shoulder, his albeit unsolicited advice made her think twice.

A month later, she took the leap, quit her job, and sat down for weeks with pen to paper. The words for her first manuscript just flew from her. Now she spends her days reading and writing, dreaming up new ideas for domestic noir fans, and drawing from her own experiences in the cut-throat commercial sector.

Not one to look back, Jo is all in, and can’t wait for her next book to begin.

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