Title: The Perfect Stranger
Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Read: April 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Read: April 2017
Expected publication: 16 May 2017
I’m not who you think.
I’m not going to tell you.
I’m no one.
Leah Stevens has always believed that if you dig deep enough you will eventually get to the truth. But her quest for exposing injustice has cost her a career as a journalist, forcing her to move to the country until the scandal of her last expose’ has died down. So when she accidentally runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who offers her a house share in a small town in rural Pennsylvania she grabs the opportunity with open arms. Now settled into her new home and working as a highschool teacher, Leah thinks she may have had a lucky escape. Until one morning, when a young woman is brutally assaulted and left for dead near a lake close to her house. A young woman, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Leah. Suddenly Leah no longer feels safe in her new home. And why has her housemate not come home for five days?
As she becomes increasingly worried about Emmy, who seems to have disappeared at the same time as the assault occurred, Leah realises how little she knows about her housemate. Emmy has always insisted that the lease and all the bills go in Leah’s name, as she was running away from an abusive relationship. But looking for Emmy, Leah discovers that no one has ever laid eyes on the woman, even at the place Emmy was supposed to be working. Even the police are doubting that Leah is telling them the truth. It’s as if Emmy has never existed...
To discover the truth, Leah must go right back to the beginning, even if it brings her face to face with the demons of her own past.
This was my belief. That the truth rises to the surface like air bubbles in boiling water. That it rushes upward like a force of nature, exploding in a gasp of air when it reaches the surface, as it was always intended to do.
I haven’t previously read any books by Megan Miranda, but have since put All the Missing Girls on my to-read list, as The Perfect Stranger is exactly the kind of book I enjoy curling up with. Extremely suspenseful, with an interesting main protagonist and a cat-and-mouse game that kept me guessing until the end, this was another one of those “all-night-read-a-thon” books that has been contributing to my permanent state of sleep deprivation lately!
I love an unreliable narrator in a psychological thriller, and Leah is perfect for that role. What is truth and what is fiction? Is Leah going crazy? As the story twists and turns, the reader can never be sure whether to take Leah’s version of the truth for gospel. Is she losing her mind and imagining things, or is she lying to protect herself? Miranda sows these little seeds of doubt very cleverly, hiding them in seemingly innocuous detail, which adds a lot of tension and an ever-present sense of danger to the story. The claustrophobic and atmospheric setting in rural Pennsylvania is a perfect backdrop, and I could vividly picture Leah moving around the house at night, fully exposed behind the windows of her new home as if she was on stage, watched by a sinister predator crouched at the edge of the woods. A perfect read whilst huddling under the safety of your doona, with only the rustling of the pages audible in the still, dark night. For me, the only slight let-down was the ending, which fizzled out a bit, with some questions remaining unanswered and the subplots not quite gelling in the way I had hoped. Whilst this did not spoil my reading pleasure, I missed the bold, twisty and unexpected finale the story had been building up to.
The Perfect Stranger is a suspenseful mystery with an interesting premise: how well do you really know your friends? Containing all the elements I look for in a psychological thriller – an unreliable narrator, a constant sense of menace or danger facing our main protagonist, an atmospheric setting and plenty of twists and turns that make you question everything you have read -I highly recommend it to any lover of the genre. The budding romance added a pleasant addition to the story, and perhaps an added element of doubt – you will need to read it to judge for yourself.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel and giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.
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