author: Kate McLaughlin
published: 8 March 2022
publisher: Wednesday Books
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BookBub | BookHype | Goodreads
Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known – until she does.
When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.
Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice – go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.
Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a novel about trying right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.
The idea of finding out that your father was an infamous serial killer? That concept made this book right up my alley!
This felt very different from most psychological thrillers I’ve read. In most of the genre, the mind trauma is weaponized, becoming the sole driving force of the psychological thriller plot. From perpetrator to victim. But in Daughter, it was more layered that just that. The psychological trauma came in so many ways, from so many places. On one hand, it came from the total upheaval of her world as Scarlet learned the truth about her father and struggled to process it. There was even more trauma from the way she was treated by the media and even by many of her friends. And then there was the trauma that came from the way the main character’s father tortured her with mind games.
The plot was so good. Scarlet grew up as the only, and much protected, daughter of Gina her mother, never knowing the truth about her father. It wasn’t until the FBI showed up at her door, wanting her help, that she finally learned the truth. The strength she showed in the aftermath was amazing. Even as she struggled to come to terms with it all, she stepped forward to help the FBI identify the remaining victims.
I loved that the story was told from Scarlet’s perspective, from the point of view of someone related to the bad guy. To see a glimpse of what it must be like to be the family member of someone who’s done such horrible things. Scarlet was a mere baby when it all took place; she was young enough to have no memory of her father. But that didn’t stop people from reacting negatively to her. It was far worse for her mother, many unable to believe she was ignorant of her then-husband’s killings.
The other fabulous part of the story was the emphasis put on remembering the victims rather than just the killer. I’m a true crime fan, and that often happens. That the victims are forgotten or lessened in comparison to the salaciousness of the killer. That’s not the way it should be. Those victims deserve a voice.
The one thing I didn’t love was the total, and quick, change in Scarlet’s mother Gina. Before Scarlet discovered the truth, she’d been the epitome of a protective helicopter mom. There’s no question Gina came by that naturally, after the hell she went through after finding out her husband was a murderer. The world treated her as if she were equally as culpable, leaving her terrified for herself and her little girl. But the moment the secret is out, all of that suddenly falls away. She changes practically overnight, suddenly a free spirit. It was a little abrupt. It felt like it was the keeping of her secret was what had kept her so paranoid and overprotective, rather than the actual safety of her daughter. The dangers surrounding being the daughter of a serial killer hadn’t abated. If anything, they’d ramped up once Scarlet’s true identify was revealed. So that seemed a little weird.
All in all, an engrossing read that I highly recommend.