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The synopsis for No Further Questions is perfect, it has the right amount of tension and intrigue to make me want to pick and read. In fact it did such a good job that not only did I originally request it via NetGalley, but I also bought the ebook from Amazon, then forgetting that I already had it, I also bought a paperback copy from the supermarket when I went shopping 🙂 I am gutted this has been on my TBR for this long as it is a cracking read.
It is a mix of courtroom drama and revisited memories that kept me eagerly turning the pages. To be honest, if work wasn’t essential I would have read this in one sitting.
So where to start? Okay, the sisters, Martha and Becky, both married, both have a child, and both sisters are very different from each other. One of the sisters needs help as she tries to run her business and look after her 8 week old, in steps the other sister and they work out a plan that in theory will fit them both. Being sisters this seems to be the ideal choice.
Now to the parents of the sisters, how the mind boggles with this aspect. Wanting to be supportive of both daughters and yet one is in the dock being accused of murdering the daughter of the other sister… Was the sister guilty, she professes her innocence, was it an accident or murder?
The story is told in thought-provoking daily chapters from the perspective of the sisters and some of the other characters. There are subchapters as well that give details from those involved each day, including those that have been called to give evidence.
It was so easy to get into this story and the further I read the more engrossed I got. I was never sure if the sister was guilty, part of me wanted her to be innocent, but there was also a seed of doubt that hovered in the background. Then further in I started to get this horrible nagging feeling, a “What if” moment. It was a feeling I hoped I was wrong about, but by the end of the story, I was right. Now this really didn’t matter, yes I worked it out, but it was all about the story getting me to that point. Even when the truth was revealed I was still shocked as I was so caught up with the story on such an emotional level, I really did not want to be right.
This is a wonderfully gripping story that explored many emotions and dilemmas for the main characters. A story of a family that are dealing with a tragic loss and could be potentially ripped even further apart. This is a tense, powerful, heartbreaking and thought-provoking read that I would definitely recommend.
I was a big fan of Gillian McAllister’s first two novels, Everything but the Truth and Anything You Do Say so I was looking forward to starting her third. No Further Questions is an intense courtroom drama that peels back the layers of a shocking, tragic event, and it has a devastating twist. I was utterly gripped from the first page. Gillian’s books keep getting better and better.
We are introduced to Becky and Martha who are sisters. Martha is a compassionate individual and has recently set up her own charity, based in Kos, Greece to help refugees. After having her daughter, Layla, Martha asks Becky to look after her so she can carry on her important work, and after leaving the country, things soon begin to take its toll on Becky. And it isn't long before Martha has to rush back to the UK after her daughter is found dead; Becky is on trial for her murder. Martha can’t bring herself to think of the possibility that Martha killed Layla. But as the evidence is stripped away, she realises that she may soon have to accept this as reality.
Gillian McAllister writes her characters so well. Although I could see why Martha wanted to go to Kos and help the refuges, I was shocked that she chose to leave her newly born daughter behind in the UK, and I felt for Becky who already has a young son, Xander to look after. There are lots of emotions that run through this book, and this comes across so well in Gillian’s writing. We are taken into the heart of the action. The case of Layla’s death has already been brought to trial, and we see all the intensity of preceding events unfold, as it is re-lived through the minds of people directly involved in the crime and the witnesses. I could never quite be sure how everything was going to come together at the end. Would Becky be found guilty? This was the question that kept me turning the pages.
The drama in the courtroom comes across very well on the page. I loved that we got to see past events through the minds of different witnesses, who all add something new to the case, and they did get me thinking as I tried to examine the evidence that Gillian put forward as well. This is what made this book so absorbing. What I thought was also interesting, was that parts of the book are told from the viewpoint of the judge. Often, when a trial is taking place, I don’t think of the judge who has to pass sentence, I only really think about the people involved in the case, the police and witnesses, and the jury who have to come to a decision. So it was fascinating to see the case from his perspective as well.
If you enjoy reading novels that will make you think, then I definitely recommend this book. It is a powerful and emotive read that I think will stay with me and in the minds of many readers for a while.
It’s a cracking read, you become totally immersed in the characters. Did she do it? Did her ex-husband do it? The evidence shows it was murder, but other evidence suggests it wasn’t. Who is the guilty party. Or is there a guilty party?
This is so cleverly constructed. Did Becky kill her niece, Layla? It seems to be the case. But her sister, Martha, and Layla’s mum, struggles to believe it. As each witness gives their testimony she veers from believing to unbelieving. Guilty to innocent. And the reader is taken on this same emotional rollercoaster not knowing what to believe. And then the final denouement is delivered so quietly and softly. Wow!
No Further Questions is the third book by Gillian McAllister and in my (very humble!) opinion it’s her best book so far! Her in depth research and experience as a lawyer means that there is a realism throughout her narrative of such an exceptionally high standard that I am always immediately transported into her fictional world. This is a rather distressing story at times and I did find myself having to put it down on a couple of occasions when emotions threatened to get the better of me but the dynamics between her characters dragged me back in again as soon as they could. Apart from that, this was a book I couldn’t bear to part with until the very last page so make sure you have plenty of time set aside when you do pick it up.
What I took to straight away here was the stylish way in which the narrative unfolded. The story was told alternately by sisters Becky and Martha as the background to the court case they are part of comes to life. But interspersed between their accounts, we meet the witnesses who are involved in giving their evidence. The way they are introduced works well and breaks up the difficult and often intense relationship between the sisters.
Reading No Further Questions was like being on an emotional rollercoaster. I became totally invested in the lives of both sisters, feeling a sense of the inevitable that whatever had happened to baby Layla meant that their relationship was never going to be the same again, no matter what the outcome of the court case. And when the truth is unraveled in all of its heartbreaking detail, I cried my eyes out. Please be warned again that there are scenes in this book that are very difficult to read at times but what a stunning piece of writing this is to be able to inspire such emotions in its readers. Gillian McAllister is a very talented lady and one of my favourite authors. All of her books are highly recommended by me!
An unimaginable crime. An aunt stands accused of smothering her baby niece. Sisters torn apart by a single moment of violence.
Martha thought she knew her sister, Becky, better than anyone – they were once as close as two sister’s could possibly be. How could she be capable of such a heinous act? Becky swears she didn’t do it, and Martha want to believe her, but as the trial progresses, she starts to doubt her sister’s innocence.
From the first page this story grabbed hold of my emotions and gripped them tight right up until the last, unforgettable page. The author did an exceptional job of crafting complex, memorable, flawed characters who read like actual people. Their interactions, relationships, memories, reactions, and emotional responses, made them all the more real and relatable.
This novel was so much more than crime suspense. Yes, it had all the twists and turns, and an explosive, didn’t-see-it-coming, ending. But it was also a courtroom drama, the story of a family divided by tragedy, what it means to be a parent, and the sacrifices it takes to be one, dealing with sudden, unexpected loss, processing grief, the nature of forgiveness, as well as starting over. I can see this one appealing to a wider variety of audience than your usual crime read. It certainly evoked all the feels in me.
The writing was top-notch, easy-to-read, and follow, with short chapters, that flowed well. Calling a person to the stand, and then having a flashback chapter in their POV showing us what they’d witnessed, as opposed to back-and-forth dialogue in a courtroom setting, was utilised well, and had more of an emotional impact.
I felt the author handled a serious and heartbreaking topic – the loss of a baby to violence – with sensitivity and caution, but I must mention that there is still some disturbing content when the medical experts give evidence.
This is my first book by Gillian McAllister and it definitely won’t be my last. This is a story that touched my heart, and will stay with me for a long time.
"Nice and tight. Safe. There she wouldn't cry now... She was warm, and moving her little fists... Eventually, standing in the cool air coming in the window, she cooled, too...back in her Moses basket, completely, peacefully asleep." This is a court room drama following the suspicious death of eight week old Layla whilst in the sole care of her Aunt, Becky, who is charged with smothering her. The evidence certainly appears damning and Becky offers no defence other than she doesn't know what happened and did not kill Layla. I loved the logic and order of the chapters, the witness back stories and the different perspectives from Mum Martha, Father Scott, Aunt Becky and Uncle Marc. Understandably, Martha's views waivered between believing Becky to be innocent and believing her to be guilty. Martha and Scott, especially Martha, feel judged for having left Leyla for two nights. Becky struggled with Layla's constant crying. The idea of a family separated by the Criminal Justice System felt harsh, but the truth needed to be discovered and it was. I was a little disoppointed that I guessed who was responsible for Layla's death (I'm not revealing who, so I don't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it) about half way through the book, because I like to guess but be wrong!. Perhaps I was lucky, because there were plenty of red herrings pointing to different characters. I couldn't read this without thinking of my two children, especially my youngest, who is now two years old. Trying to remember her at 8 weeks old, so vulnerable. A sad tale, but with some hope by the end. Gripping and tense, with many twists, if you like courtroom dramas, you will love this!
Gillian McAllister has become one of my go-to authors since I read her debut novel Everything But The Truth and with No Further Questions her place as one of my favourite authors has been firmly cemented. This book absolutely took me through the wringer and I was reduced to tears on more than one occasion.
A story of two sisters facing the ultimate test of their relationship. Becky is accused of smothering her 8 week old niece Layla who was in her care while both parents were away. There is far more to this story which we learn through flashbacks to "the night of". McAllister drip feeds us details from that fateful evening and I raced through the book. At one point I was convinced I had worked everything out but changed my mind several times.
The idea of the families involved being so fractured by Layla's death really got to me. These two sisters, bound together by love but torn apart by doubt, got under my skin and into my mind for days after I had finished.
Obviously No Further questions deals with the very emotive subject of the death of a baby which at times is a difficult read. The statements from the attending paramedic, A&E consultant and pathologist were the ones that broke my heart a little. I was also touched by the narrative from Martha (Layla's mother) about how hard she had found the early days of Layla's birth and how she felt about the bonding process. This struck such a chord with me.
Gillian McAllister just gets better and better with each book and I can't wait to see what's next from her!
No Further Questions - Gillian McAllister 💜💜💜💜💜/5 . I absolutely loved Gillian's first 2 books so when she put out an IG post saying it could be requested from Netgalley, I dived straight on there!! And I got a copy!! 😁 . Two sisters on opposite sides of the courtroom....one whose baby has died and one accused of murdering their niece. The police are convinced she's guilty, she says she's innocent....who do you believe? . I LOVED this book ❤ I couldn't put it down and read it in about 5 hours...it was that good!! It was incredibly well told, the storyline was intense and gripping and the relationships between the sisters and the rest of the family was real. I absolutely loved the different witness perspectives and the court scenes, they were thrilling. It's a tough topic to write about, but I thought it was so well done...I was surprised at the ending, but it all came together really well and I will definitely be adding this to my collection in paperback when it comes out! I couldn't ever imagine being in a place where I had to decide something like guilt about my sister....whom I adore....so it was heartbreaking to read 😔 but so so brilliant ❤❤ . #bookstagram #bookreview #kels_readsreviews #gillianmcallister #nofurtherquestions #fantasticbook #fantasticstory #lovedthis #mustread
I loved this book! I like a book that you can’t put down. I really felt sorry for Becky & the expectation that was put upon her. I was quite worried that Martha felt she had no other option but to leave her new baby & I was furious at the selfishness of Martha’s husband! For once, I didn’t guess the ending. It was very sensitively told. The court case was tense. If anything, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t delve into the parents views much more. Surely they were somewhat responsible for Becky’s lack of self esteem? I’d also like to know much more about why their brother was so convinced of Becky’s innocence. What did he know? I’ll be sure to look out for more from this author. At one point, I had to stop reading as the death & post-mortem of a child does not make for easy reading.
This is Gillian McAllister’s third novel, and the third I’ve read and enjoyed, and I’m pretty confident that I’ll read everything she publishes. She’s so consistently good at character and plot, and her prose is so smooth, that her books are always a complete joy.
There’s nothing quite like starting with a hook like this one. A courtroom: one sister accused of murdering the other sister’s baby. Martha is torn apart. Her baby daughter, Layla, died at eight weeks old. She wasn’t there. Her sister Becky was looking after Layla and is accused of smothering her. Becky denies it. McAllister really gets under the skin of these characters, and subtly demonstrates Martha’s impossible position.
One of the book’s great strengths is the range of voices. Each witness tells their part of the story, which brings those scenes to life brilliantly. In particular, I admired the scene in the hospital, during which Layla is pronounced dead. And later in the book, there’s a wonderful scene where Martha and her husband Scott find a way to connect with one another after months of near silence. McAllister handles these emotionally charged scenes with such loving care. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.