Title: The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly
Publisher: Grove Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
The Mistake I Made is the latest page-turner from one of the England’s most captivating new thriller writers. In her provocative and riveting third novel, Paula Daly focuses her masterful eye for psychological suspense and family drama on an indecent proposal that has fatal repercussions.
Single mother Roz has reached breaking-point. After the dissolution of her marriage, Roz’s business has gone under, debts are racking up, the rent is late (again), and she’s struggling to provide for her nine-year-old son, who is starting to misbehave in school. Roz is in trouble. Real trouble.
When Roz returns home from work one day and finds an eviction notice, she knows that it’s time for action—she has two weeks to find a solution otherwise they will be kicked out of their home. Increasingly desperate, Roz doesn’t know where to turn. Then the perfect opportunity presents itself. At her sister’s fortieth birthday party, Roz meets Scott Elias—wealthy, powerful, and very married. But the impression Roz leaves on him is indelible. He tracks her down and makes Roz an offer to spend the night with him—for money. He wants no-strings-attached intimacy and can guarantee total discretion. Could it be as simple as it sounds? With that kind of cash, Roz could clear her debts and get her life back on track. But as the situation spirals out of her control, Roz is forced to do things she never thought herself capable of. Can she ever set things right again?
In The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly, Roz Toovey, a destitute single mother, makes a morally questionable decision to solve her financial woes and soon lives to regret it when her situation quickly goes from bad to worse.
Roz is a physiotherapist (for US readers, physical therapist) who is struggling to make ends meet after she separating from her cheating husband. In addition to his infidelity, he also ran up a staggering amount of debt on their joint credit cards and as a result, she lost both her business and the family home. The final straw comes after most of her household furnishings are repossessed and she is served with an eviction notice. Having recently met wealthy businessman Scott Elias through her sister, she reconsiders his proposition to sleep with him after he offers to pay her for her services. However, things takes a bit of a dark turn when Roz tries to end their arrangement and one of her co-workers goes missing.
Roz is a surprisingly sympathetic character despite her rather unpalatable choice to sleep with a married man for financial gain. Once the full scope of her financial situation is revealed, it is easy to understand why she feels like she has no other option but to accept Scott’s offer. Her estranged husband refuses to pay child support and she is truly at wits’ end with the looming eviction. Adding to her stress is her nine year old son, George’s misbehavior at school but she is surprisingly patient with him as she tries to understand what is motivating his actions.
Although Roz has qualms about what her agreement, she feels as though she she has no choice but to follow through with their arrangement. She grows increasingly uncomfortable with the situation as their lives become more entwined socially but trying to extricate herself from Scott is unexpectedly complicated by his reluctance to end their affair. Her life becomes even difficult in the wake of her co-worker’s disappearance and the subsequent police investigation. However, once Roz realizes the full implications of her fateful decision, she makes a surprising choice that could have a disastrous effect on her future.
Despite a bit of a slow beginning and a somewhat predictable storyline, The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly is nonetheless a compelling novel. The plot is quite unique with plenty of tension to hold the readers’ interest as the story winds its way to an unanticipated but thoroughly satisfying conclusion. An overall outstanding mystery that fans of the genre do not want to miss.