Published: April 11, 2017
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?
Megan Miranda’s The Perfect Stranger is billed as being a sequel to her highly successful All the Missing Girls, although as far as I can tell, there are no common characters or plot threads, unless one counts the fact that one of the characters in The Perfect Stranger is a “missing girl”! If you haven’t read the first one you will have no problem with this one, it’s a standalone, and is a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing read that asks some interesting questions. How well we can ever know another person? How honest and accurate are our self-perceptions? Just how far would you go for a friend who’d done a lot for you?
Megan Miranda does a terrific job in this book of creating and maintaining an atmosphere of menace and uncertainty. She skillfully and slowly feeds the truth about Leah’s situation, hinting at what she’s running from and slowly fitting the pieces of the puzzle together – although it’s not until well into the story that we finally discover the nature of the terrifying events that set her on the path she’s now travelling. And there’s also the fact that Leah is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, something the author plays with so cleverly that there are times the reader even questions the fact of Emmy’s existence, wondering if the police are right and she’s just a figment of Leah’s obviously active imagination.
On the negative side, however, there are times when there is perhaps just a little too much going on, there are a few plot-threads that are not suitably resolved, and a couple of large inconsistencies that really had me scratching my head – and not in a good way. The mystery is full of satisfying twists and turns, with a few suitably head-shaking moments of realization along the way, but the ending is somewhat of a let down. Things end well for Leah and Kyle, but it’s all a little low-key, so while I was pleased that everything was nicely tied up, I’d expected something a little… well, MORE.
With all that said, however, I enjoyed The Perfect Stranger enough to recommend it to fans of adult angst filled mysteries. It caught my interest early and kept me listening to the end.