Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: Can Anybody Help Me?

Summary: It was crazy really, she had never met the woman, had no idea of her real name but she thought of her as a friend. Or, at least, the closest thing she had to a friend in Dublin.

Struggling with a new baby, Yvonne turns to netmammy, an online forum for mothers, for support. Drawn into a world of new friends, she spends increasing amounts of time online and volunteers more and more information about herself.

When one of her new friends goes offline, Yvonne thinks something is wrong, but dismisses her fears. After all, does she really know this woman?

But when the body of a young woman with striking similarities to Yvonne's missing friend is found, Yvonne realises that they're all in terrifying danger. Can she persuade Sergeant Claire Boyle, herself about to go on maternity leave, to take her fears seriously? -- Quercus

Anybody who has felt the insecurities of having a new baby will appreciate the Irish novel CAN ANYBODY HELP ME? by Sinead Crowley. This novel is not only a suspenseful mystery, but it also explores pregnancy and motherhood in a honest way. All in all, it was a fast-paced read that definitely kept me guessing!

CAN ANYBODY HELP ME? tells the story of Yvonne, a new mom who has recently just moved to Dublin. Her husband is busy with his job in television, and Yvonne is left alone with her baby and no real support system. She turns to netmammy, an online forum for moms, and makes some friends. (For those of you like me who've met wonderful friends on-line, this story rings true!) Her daily conversations with these women become important in her life -- she suddenly isn't so alone with a new baby.

When one of Yvonne's new friends stops posting in the chats, Yvonne becomes worried and then suspicious. She's torn because, while she considers her a good friend, she doesn't really know her "know her" -- if that makes sense? And what can she really do to help when she only knows her through this forum? However, when the body of a young woman who has an awful lot in common with her friend is found and another mom winds up dead of an apparent suicide, Yvonne suddenly realizes that her window to the world, netmammy, might be putting her (and the other moms) in grave danger.

Sergeant Claire Boyle, is actively involved in the case surrounding the woman's murder; and she also just happens to be pregnant with her first child and almost ready for her own maternity leave. Claire isn't about to let her pregnancy get in the way of solving this case; however, she can't help but be aware of a few limitations as her due date is rapidly approaching.

I found CAN ANYBODY HELP ME? to be a real page-turner with lots of suspense. I enjoyed the story quite a bit, and I honestly had no idea who was responsible for the murders. Well, actually I had a few culprits in mind but I was totally wrong! While I did feel like the ending kind of came from no where, I liked that I was gobsmacked when everything was finally revealed!

The story was told in a special way that added to my appreciation of the novel. There were alternating chapters that told both Yvonne's story as well as Claire's investigation, and there were also chapters which showed the on-line forum discussions. By providing both women's points of view as well as the text from the chats, I felt as if I had a complete look at the main players in the novel.

One thing I definitely appreciated about CAN ANYBODY HELP ME? was how well it portrayed pregnancy and motherhood. I think many women who have been pregnant (including me!) will relate to Claire and her desire not to let her pregnancy get in the way of her investigation. Personally, I adored Claire and appreciated that she wasn't obsessing about every single detail of her pregnancy!

And possibly even more moms will relate to Yvonne's insecurities as a new mother and her feelings of loneliness. I felt as if Yvonne's day-to-day issues were portrayed in an extremely realistic way. I know I was waiting at the door for my husband to get home and give me a break... and poor Yvonne had a husband who worked a ton of hours! She also had just recently moved to Ireland from her home in England and didn't have a lot of friends, so netmammy was a way to at least make friends when she couldn't exactly just go anywhere with a new baby.

Overall, CAN ANYBODY HELP ME? was a past-paced mystery that is geared towards women. I enjoyed it quite a bit and wouldn't hesitate to read more of Ms. Crowley's novels.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like it's full of emotion and suspense. I totally get the online friend part of the story. Great review!