fulfilling my 2019 goal to read (at least) one book each month that has been digitally moldering, unread, on my NOOK for years and years and years.
this book was very okay.
a few years back, i read this author’s backwardsy mystery novel, All the Missing Girls, which i thought was great fun and a rare instance of an author writing a gimmicky book that had more to offer beyond the gimmick itself. shortly after that, The Perfect Stranger turned up as one of those NOOK-sale dealies, so i figuratively snatched it up and there it sat, as so many of my impulsive NOOK purchases tend to do.
and now that i’ve finally read it, i feel like it could have stayed forgotten on there for a couple more years and i would have been okay with it.
it’s a bit of a backslide for her—a perfectly ordinary piece of psych suspense that reads like a debut: tentative and predictable and full of unlikely human behaviors. it’s frustrating because, while All the Missing Girls had some gaps n flaws, they could be overlooked because the momentum was so strong and the reverse-order novelty was truly well-done, making for a gripping page-turner. here, it’s so difficult to buy what she’s selling in the ‘character motivation’ department, it was hard to not keep clicking back through the digital pages looking for some kinda traumatic brain injury i’d overlooked or something to explain all of the ‘whys’ and ‘but waits.’
she does a good job intensifying the suspense, and there was one turn in particular that gave me those reader-shivers you want out of a psychological thriller, but there was too much that just didn’t wash, it was too reliant upon coincidence and silly red herrings, too many implausibilities, and a desultory romantic subplot that did ze-ro for the story.
it’s disappointing compared to All the Missing Girls, but if you are looking for a light diversion on vacation or a quick escapist snack when life is too demanding for challenging littrature, it’ll do you just fine, provided you can suspend your disbelief and just sink into it. i could medium do that, so it’s a three for me.