In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls, a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all. Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later. Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name. Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Three and a half stars: A book with a strong, suspenseful mystery, but it falters with wordiness and story lines that don't fit well into the story.
Leah has settled into her new teaching job in rural Pennsylvania after a disastrous article she printed in Boston ruined her career. She was grateful to reconnect with Emmy, her roommate from eight years ago and make a new start. Everything is going well when disaster strikes. A young woman is found beaten nearly to death by the lake. An anonymous phone call accuses one of Leah's coworkers. When the police come asking questions, Leah's instinct is to hide, but then when she realizes Emmy has gone missing, she is forced to work with the cops. Once the investigation begins to find Emmy, there are nothing but dead ends, leaving the police wondering if Emmy existed at all. Leah is determined to find the truth, but the more she digs, the more she realizes that she didn't know Emmy at all. Can Leah uncover the truth?
What I Liked:
- I know that I am not alone in wondering if Ms. Miranda can match the brilliance she achieved with All the Missing Girls. While Ms. Miranda proved with this book that she is not a fluke, she is indeed a talented writer, this book didn't quite live up to its predecessor. However, this novel is suspenseful with a strong mystery that kept me reading well past my bedtime. If you want a compelling mystery, this is one to check out.
- I loved immersing myself into the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Emmy. There were so many twists and turns, and unexpected developments. I wasn't sure where it would all lead, and I questioned the reliability of the narrator. I loved the suspense and the many directions this story took.
- I liked the way the author wove in the details from Leah's past, especially when it came to the events that led to her leaving Boston. Sometimes utilizing flashbacks disrupts the flow of the story, but that wasn't the case with this book. The uncovering of events in Leah's past helped to establish her character, and helped the reader to understand her motivations.
- I appreciated that the ending concluded the story without a cliffhanger or a jarring ending. Most of the questions are answered. No head scratching, confusing ending with this one.
And The Not So Much:
- The first half of the story flew by. The writing was terrific, the suspense thick, and the story was tight. Then something happens in the latter half. The pace begins to drag as the author went off on these wordy, self analyzation sections that got to be distracting. I found myself quickly tiring of all of Leah's new self discoveries.
- Speaking of Leah, I struggled with her. I could not connect or even sympathize with her because I wasn't sure if she was reliable. Then as the story unfolded, I just never liked her. I did finally appreciate her tenacity and the way she dug to find the truth, but in the end, I thought she was a weak character, and that ruined the enjoyment of the story for me.
- I was frustrated at the inclusion of several story lines that were left unfinished and they didn't end up adding much to the mystery. For instance, I didn't like how the whole story line regarding Paige and Aaron from Leah's past ended. I was left wanting to know so much more, and it really had no part in the story other than to provide information as to Leah's character. I wished that this story line had been further fleshed out. I also didn't understand why there wasn't further explanation regarding Emmy's behavior. Finally, what was the deal with her student, was he troubled or what?
- There is a bit of a romance, but I disliked it because it started out as lust and sex and I never felt like there was any substance to it. I could have done without the romance entirely. It adds nothing to the story.
The Perfect Stranger is a book that left me conflicted. I was immediately drawn into the book by the strong and interesting mystery, but as the story progressed, I was frustrated by wordiness, unfinished story lines and a main character that I couldn't connect or sympathize with. I enjoyed the book, but it didn't measure up to All the Missing Girls. Still, Ms. Miranda is a talented writer, and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
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