Chandler Baker’s first crime novel, The Whisper Network, dealt with women in a corporate environment and the near-universal specter highlighted by the #metoo movement. She followed this with The Husbands, a psychological suspense narrative that aimed its satire at marriage and the demands of domestic life. Following this trend, Chandler Baker now releases her latest suspense novel—Cutting Teeth—and rips the band-aid off motherhood (quite literally).
Cutting Teeth tells the tales of a group of mothers whose children attend the Little Academy preschool. Like most others, these women are called on to handle every crisis: making meals, changing diapers, negotiating naps, and refereeing conflicts. But the mothers of Little Academy students now have a new dilemma: Their children are craving blood!
As these families struggle to figure out what is going on, they are required to look into rare genetic diseases and arrange medical appointments, all while not messing up the little one’s set schedules. As some mothers opt into willingly feeding their children the “required” nutrition, others bulk at the idea of something so barbaric. As that debate rages on, everything goes out the window when a young teacher is found dead in her Little Academy classroom—the children the only potential witnesses and the prime suspects.
Chandler Baker uses point-of-view chapters from three of the mothers—Darby, Mary Beth, and Rhea—to document the actions that led up to the teacher’s demise, showing the home life of these families and their particular roles in the school dynamic. Needless to say, each family has a secret or two they would like to keep under wraps.
Cutting Teeth may seem like a satire or farce (and in some ways it can be viewed that way) but it’s also a realistic examination of the pressures placed on mothers—by society, by each other, and by themselves. It’s a wild ride that will keep readers invested in finding out the truth—about many different elements.
For those afraid this might be a vampire novel, rest assured that it is not that. The condition the children are facing is explained and fascinating to learn about. The narrative is repeatedly interrupted by transcripts of the police interviews with each of the children—constantly reminding the reader that a teacher was killed and that the structural core of this novel remains the mystery of what happened to her.
Of course, it helps when such serious topics can be treated in a light-hearted way and Chandler Baker manages to pepper the narrative with some truly outrageous moments that are too crazy to believe. Many of these would cause a psychological break in just about anyone—well, anyone other than a mother. They have already seen it all.
Don’t be the last in your neighborhood to read Chandler Baker’s Cutting Teeth. There are consequences to being behind the curve. But in all seriousness, this is a cleverly constructed and entertaining summer read, perfect for those brief moments when the little ones are napping. Better hurry!
Disclaimer: An print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.