Juliette has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep tabs on her ex-boyfriend. Though in Juliette’s mind, this has been more of a pause in their relationship than an actual split. This will give Juliette time to fine tune the parts of herself that complimented Nate, enter his industry, spy on his personal devices and occupy his flat when he is out flying planes. As one aggrieved partner would of course do.
THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND is perfectly compulsive reading that will literally take you places. Was it wrong, when reading this thriller novel, to want to hear more about what it is to be a flight attendant? Apologies to the author for this take-home but this aspect of the book was very interesting!
The character Juliette kept this reviewer completely under her spell for the entire length of the book. Juliette is utterly credible and fully fleshed out as a force of nature whose grand plans won’t be denied. Going along on Juliette’s completely rational ride to glory is a huge adventure and you can’t help but admire her dedication to the mission. She is focused, she is determined, she has the intelligence, the means to see it all through and never backs down from her goal of firmly reinserting herself back into her ideal relationship.
Author Karen Hamilton has done a bang up of making us like Juliette, despite her dangerous intentions and willingness to do what needs to be done. You will want to like this woman, but you will be frightened of her, and you will never ever want to be on her bad side. THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND epitomizes the modern psychological thriller and skates deliciously along the edge of all we are not supposed to admire – but sneakily do.
Review - The Watcher, Ross Armstrong
Lily lives with her writer husband in their modern apartment, minus the usual trappings of children and pets. It’s a quiet life, despite the teeming masses of humanity that share the apartment complex with them. It is the coming and going of the other residents, plus those across the street also, that compels Lily to obsessively people watch. Likening her new hobby to “birding”, Lily becomes more and more immersed in being the unseen observer and becomes more organized in her approach to her daily observations.
You do want to Lily to succeed, as her clumsy and inept forays into investigating the murder of her neighbour are almost charming. She is a lone woman against the world and her husband is of little or no help. You do feel her frustration when the efforts of others to shut her down send her into further distress and disarray. Lily is one person who truly needs to get to the truth. The red herrings are largely due to the floundering of Lily herself and the structure of the murder mystery is not that complicated; you will need to wade in and wait quite a while for the major plot twist.
The recent popular novels referenced as comparisons to THE WATCHER do lead us to suspect an unreliable narrator, and it is this that drives the reader forward in what is otherwise a slow moving novel. What did Lily actually see? What interactions has Lily really had with her suspect neighbours and what is her involvement with the murder itself? THE WATCHER struggles to keep the action moving forward, and on reflection at novel’s end it is hard to determine why it is that Lily keeps persisting.
Review - All Is Not Forgotten, Wendy Walker
Teenager Jenny Kramer attends a high school party where most of her town’s young people are in attendance. Friends and people she has grown up with in a small town. Children of family friends. Making the decision to leave the party early, Jenny is brutally attacked nearby by an assailant whose face she never sees.
As the teen struggles to deal with both the mental and physical trauma, Jenny’s parents make the decision to allow medics try a new drug on their daughter that will serve to delete the immediate painful memories of the attack.
Charlotte and Tom Kramer come to regret that decision as they witness Jenny’s struggle to return to her former self in the following months. In comes Dr Forrester, who currently is dealing with a volatile male client who has also has lost trauma memories. It is the belief of the psychiatrist that recovering those lost memories will greatly aid his patients on their road to recovery.
As it is with all books written in the first person narrative, we are required to spend a lot of our reading time immersed in the thoughts of one character. Dr Alan Forrester is also seeing the parents of the victim, and believes in the holistic approach of counselling the entire family. Or is that what he is really doing?
As the doctor pontificates on about his psychiatric profession as it now relates his new case, three quarters of this book become quite soporific to read. In its last quarter ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN however finds its feet and we are dragged onwards to the conclusion with ill feeling. This is not a novel about the victim of a violent crime; we don’t in fact hear much from the victim. The book is full of self-serving individuals who all have a connection to our narrator, the narcissistic psychiatrist who has an agenda of his own that is always at the forefront. It is very much a book about avoidance.
It does feel too much too late when we are introduced to the major plot twist; backstory at the end when it could have been fed through the narrative to create a greater sense of foreboding. ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN is an uneasy dark thriller that has a very, very slow burn. It does give an interesting alternate viewpoint to the ripple effect of a violent crime in a small community where each decision made and each confidence revealed can catalyst further catastrophic events.
REVIEW - THE PERFECT GIRL, GILLY MACMILLAN
Zoe Maisey and her stepbrother Lucas Kennedy are members of what Zoe calls "second chance" family. Both teenagers are musically talented - child geniuses even - and their first joint public performance should have been a joyful occasion. A chance to showcase their considerable talents.
A second chance for Zoe to shine, after the terrible thing that she did.
Zoe's fragile mother Maria has done her best to carve out a new life for herself and Zoe with her dynamic new husband after the horrors of the past. Zoe now has a much loved baby sister too. What got Zoe through her incarceration in a youth facility was her desire to continue with the piano. The concert that she agrees to do at the desperate request of her mother was to be their triumph. The night instead ends in a murder and the nightmare begins again for Zoe. The eyes of everyone are on the one person in their midst who has killed before.
One thing you can't get away from in the novel is the sneaking suspicion that it is a one trick pony.
THE PERFECT GIRL was renamed (clue; the previous title did not have 'girl' in it) before initial publication and refers to the level of self control that Zoe must maintain lest her new life unravels. Zoe was once the focus of a police investigation after causing the death of three of her peers at a teenage party. THE PERFECT GIRL features the perspectives of Zoe's family members plus the family lawyer (a sad little subplot that is never resolved) so whilst it is not all about a frightened teen, the book never graduates beyond the immediacy of the period in which Zoe's mother's body is discovered and the police begin their questioning.
Set over the course over 24 hours there isn't much opportunity for the police investigation to progress, or for any further suspense to build beyond the newer killing. Opportunities to delve into the aftermath of a crime aren't explored. The flashbacks into Zoe's past do little to illuminate her character and to make her into someone we want to see succeed and move on past her tragedies.
All in all, even for a murder book, THE PERFECT GIRL is a gloomy read and struggles to find a sense of purpose in the latter half of the book with all that despair dragging it down.