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Book Author: Barbara Abel

MOTHERS’ INSTINCT by Barbara Abel: Book Review

The Brunelles and the Geniots are next-door neighbors and have been best friends for years.  Each couple has a son, and the boys are the same age.  It’s a perfect relationship until a tragic accident tears everything apart.

Milo Brunelle was the first child to arrive, followed by Maxime Geniot three months later.  The night of Maxime’s birth, David Brunelle and Sylvain Geniot went out drinking to celebrate.  Each had always been open about his past, David thought, but this night brings an unsetting confession from Sylvain.  Years earlier he tried to help a close friend who had written a prescription for a woman without asking her if she were pregnant.  She was, and the dosage of the medication caused her to have a miscarriage.

If only he could retrieve his hand-written prescription from the pharmacy and substitute one listing the correct dosage, the doctor told Sylvain, he would be in the clear.  Otherwise he would lose his medical license and perhaps even go to jail.  So Sylvain visited the pharmacy, and with a sleight-of-hand he took the original form and left the corrected one in the shop’s files.  Thus Sylvain’s friend kept his license.

But the fly in the ointment was that Sylvain was attracted to the pharmacist, dated her, and now he and Tiphaine are married and the parents of newborn Maxime.  Until now, Sylvain tells David, he has kept this secret from everyone, including his wife.  Helping his friend meant that Tiphaine lost her license, paid a heavy fine, and was forbidden to work as a pharmacist again.  Sylvain feels she would never forgive him if she knew he was responsible for ending her career.

Six years later Maxime dies in a fall from his upstairs bedroom window, with Laetitia Brunelle a horrified witness, unable to reach the boy in time to prevent his death.  The Brunelles want to comfort their neighbors in any way they can, but the Geniots are not receptive for a long time.  Finally, however, the friendships resume, although they are not as strong as before.  The Brunells and the Geniots seem on edge, both sides often responding to the other couple with hurt looks and cutting remarks.

Then a series of “accidents” occur, but are they truly accidents?

Mothers’ Instinct is located in an unnamed city in Belgium, but it could take place anywhere.  The horror of a child’s death, the unravelling of a friendship, the blaming, the guilt, are all sadly universal.  What makes this novel unique is the quiet pace that leads to its shocking conclusion.

Barbara Abel is the author of fourteen novels.  You can read about her at various sites on the internet.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.