The Perfect Stranger
Emmy Grey has been missing for five days. Her housemate, Leah Stevens, is worried, and on the fifth day finally calls the police. She already has a relationship with the detective due to the discovery of a girl beaten in the woods who is now in a coma. Leah is a former journalist from Boston who lost her job. After years of separation, she bumped into Emmy, and the two decided to take off to parts unknown and live together. There Leah became a teacher and realized she did not know much about Emmy, not even her last name.
Leah is the first person narrator of Megan Miranda’s THE PERFECT STRANGER, thus we travel through her mind. This technique allows us to feel that we are actually a character in the narrative.
"Clues and red herrings are scattered throughout THE PERFECT STRANGER, and it is up to the reader to keep up with the trajectory of the plot. The pace is fast, and the events occur at breakneck speed."
Kyle Donovan is the young, handsome detective on the case, though Leah takes it upon herself to do some investigating on her own. The only information she has is that Emmy told her she works in the "Last No-Tell Motel." She visits the motels near her home and comes upon one that fits the description of such a place. She girds herself and goes into the falling-down mess only to be told that nobody saw or knows Emmy.
When Leah is finally alone, she decides to go through Emmy's things and is surprised by what she finds: "This dresser was full of casual button-downs, tunics, leggings. Thick socks and ribbed camisoles. It seemed that this Emmy favored practicality above all else." Leah remembers her roommate dressing in a sexier way, yet another reminder that she really does not know the young woman she thinks of as a friend.
Leah is afraid of Davis Cobb, the main suspect in the case of the girl who was found near the lake. He seems to be everywhere. He was the coach at the school where Leah teaches but currently is on suspension. Leah is getting phone calls from someone who either whispers or says nothing. She does not trust Cobb, and believes he is always coming on to her and is stalking her.
As the novel unfolds, readers may begin to wonder if Emmy ever existed at all. Everyone in this rural Pennsylvania town has something to hide, including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own? If Emmy really was a person, what was she hiding, and is she hiding now?
Clues and red herrings are scattered throughout THE PERFECT STRANGER, and it is up to the reader to keep up with the trajectory of the plot. The pace is fast, and the events occur at breakneck speed. Leah believes, "When you get down to it, everyone was a mystery, just waiting to be unraveled."
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on April 14, 2017