The Perfect Stranger
THE PERFECT STRANGER is the perfect wild night’s reading ride for the closing days of summer. Loaded with suspense, tragedy and mystery, it is a page-turner from beginning to end, a book that keeps the reader guessing and misdirected until practically the last page.
The events that comprise the novel take place over the first two weeks of June and center on five bloggers who have never met in person but have one element in common: surviving breast cancer. They are suddenly and dramatically brought together when Meredith, one of their members, dies suddenly. Her death was not the result of the recurrence of her disease --- of which her fellow blog mates were unaware --- but rather due to her murder during a burglary. Three of the four remaining members of her blog resolve to travel from their homes to Cincinnati to attend the funeral service. Meeting for the first time, the ladies --- Landry, a homemaker from Alabama; Kay, a former prison guard from Indianapolis; and Elena, a first grade teacher from Boston with a drinking problem --- quickly become aware of their similarities and differences. They also come to learn that the fourth surviving member of their group, the absent (though not exactly so) Jaycee may be much more than they initially thought her to be.
"THE PERFECT STRANGER is the perfect wild night’s reading ride for the closing days of summer. Loaded with suspense, tragedy and mystery, it is a page-turner from beginning to end, a book that keeps the reader guessing and misdirected until practically the last page."
The suspicious detective tasked with investigating Meredith’s murder is all but certain that the key to the case lies within the blog circle to which Meredith belonged. Meanwhile, Rebecca, Meredith’s loving daughter, is concerned that the killer may be much closer to her own family than she otherwise would think possible. In fact, she thinks that it’s impossible, but nonetheless is ready to face the reality if necessary, even as she believes that her emotionally distant husband is involved with someone else.
As THE PERFECT STRANGER progresses, the reader comes to know each of the principals in the story intimately, though not well, at least until the story’s startling conclusion. The who and, most importantly, the why of the death of Meredith, as well as those of two other individuals, are ultimately revealed.
Wendy Corsi Staub is known for creating and presenting memorable characters in her novels, and there are several in the mix here. Many of them are introduced in rapid-fire progression during the first quarter of the book, with points of view changing quickly. Those who stay with the narrative (just try to let go!) will sort out the differences in personalities quickly enough and settle into the complex but intriguing storyline (and its subplots) in short order. There is also an underlying and very important theme to the book, that being the increasing tendency of people to reveal personal details online, particularly via social media. The message in THE PERFECT STRANGER is quite clear: Don’t.
If you don’t have elements of paranoia in your personality when you start reading this book, you will by the time you finish. Recommended to keep you up all night.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 1, 2014