Review: The Perfect Stranger

Rating: 3 Stars

I have found that if you have not read a writer before, don’t read their best rated book first, because it will set the bar higher for subsequent books.  I had not read Megan Miranda before, and all reviews pointed at All The Missing Girls being the greatest book ever written. Of course, that made me wary of getting it. As I was ordering some books from Amazon, I saw The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda, and added it to my basket without reading any reviews or ratings. I wasn’t disappointed.

Leah Stevens moves to a small town in Pennsylvania with her friend Emmy Grey. She needs to start over and leave behind the scandal that ended her journalism career and almost destroyed her. She takes up a teaching position in the local high school while Emmy, with her background in NGO work, struggles with part-time jobs. It is not a peaceful existence as she struggles with forgetting her past and getting used to living in the isolated house near the lake that Emmy was intent on living in.

When there is a vicious crime near Leah’s house, and Leah reports Emmy missing, all hell breaks loose. Leah realizes that her new house is not so safe after all, and  someone seems to be stalking her. As things unravel, it dawns on Leah that there is no evidence that Emmy Grey even existed, and now she herself is the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Now Leah not only has to prove herself innocent by finding Emmy Grey, she also has to see her past with new eyes.

The character of Leah is a good one. She has a journalist’s instincts and reactions, and she is ready to go to any length to get to the truth. The setting of the book is also true to a thriller. The glass walls that make the front of the house visible to anyone from outside, struck as quite creepy, and I kept imagining how it would feel to sleep in a house like that. Even though the characters and setting were good, I wish the writer had given some more reality to the narrative.

The irritant in this book was the way Leah Stevens describes everything, from her relationship to her family, to the scandal that made her run away, in terms that seemed to be coming out of the mouth of a psychologist rather than a journalist. Saying something like, “Have you ever wondered if what we’re doing is the only path? If we weren’t meant for something else?” when all her sister asked was what was going on; who talks like that in the real world?

The climax was also a bit of a disappointment. After so many twists and turns, the end was like a fizzled bomb. It was rushed. and there were some loose ends that were not dealt with. The most glaring one being the fate of Theo Burton and how the evidence that seemed so flimsy a couple of pages back, was suddenly enough to detain him. Then there was the last confrontation that was over almost as soon as it began, and leaves you feeling like you were cheated out of a good climax after spending so much time reading the book.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and would give it 3.5 stars. I just wish the ending had been a better.

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