REVIEW: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
THE PERFECT STRANGER by Megan Miranda is the best suspenseful thriller I’ve read this year. I really liked the protagonist, even though I didn’t always trust her. That’s why this book is a favorite – it kept me doubtful and suspicious until the end. The author hit many of my preferences with the backwoods setting to the journalist turned high school teacher. Vivid imagery makes the setting come alive in sight, sound, and creepiness.
Leah Stevens messed up big time at her dream job as a journalist. She feels she did the right thing, but everyone else thinks she crossed the line. Now she’s stuck in the middle of nowhere teaching for a living, all because her former roommate, Emmy, had a hair-brained idea for them to pool their resources once again. Leah is now the city girl in the middle of the woods in a cabin with enough outside noises to keep her jumpy. She has a semi-tough way of maneuvering around a situation without being flawless that keeps the reader on their toes right along with her.
When Emmy goes missing, Leah must reach out to the police. She meets Kyle Donovan, who asks too many questions. Questions that Leah can’t, or won’t, answer to maintain her privacy. But she wants to find Emmy, so she’ll give a little to get something back. When another woman turns up dead, Leah’s urgency to find Emmy increases, and her willingness to cooperate with the police implicates more than she wishes.
Some of my favorite parts of this novel are Leah’s interactions with her high school students. They’re a curious lot and their BS meters are set on high alert when it comes to Ms. Stevens. But Leah also has a way of getting information that’s sneaky and ingenious. One thing Leah understands is people and what makes them tick. Her journalism background gives her the investigative edge she needs.
This is the type of book where you suspect everyone of lying or misrepresentation. Sometimes I reread sections just to be sure I didn’t miss anything. For a while, I suspected something about Leah that never panned out, but I was sure I was right, and the surprises were fun, even when I realized my guesses were wrong. Most of the time when I read a book like this I’m yelling at the main character for being so gullible. Or, I’m wondering how she could have missed that clue. Leah is special. I was with her every step of the way, getting surprised, nervous and scared right along with her.
THE PERFECT STRANGER is listed as a follow-up to ALL THE MISSING GIRLS. If there’s a connection, it was seamless to someone who hasn’t read that book. I think they meant it was the follow-up to her mega hit, rather than a tie between the books. For those who prefer books with romance, there is a romance within these pages. It’s not the focus, but it adds to the characterization.
I’m hooked on author Megan Miranda’s craftsmanship. I visualized everything that happened as if I was there, but I never felt overwhelmed or bored by lengthy descriptions. I literally thought about the plot constantly when I was away from it, and I was tempted to cancel everything to devour the book instead.
Is this novel perfect? No – I don’t think any novel can be perfect to every person’s predilections. There are a few lulls, or places where I got confused and had to reread. I would have liked more insight into Leah’s future. But, I think that’s a testament to this author’s talent, because I didn’t want the novel to end. Leah also didn’t always react exactly like I thought she would or should, but that kept me guessing. I believe this book is as perfect as one can be to match my reading preferences. I was captivated and will be reading everything Megan Miranda writes, including her young adult novels.
THE PERFECT STRANGER is a nail-biter with fascinating characterization. It’s the rare author that skillfully consumes my thoughts in-between reading. This is one of those books where you’re not sure you want to know what happens next, yet you can’t stop reading long enough to debate it. Author Megan Miranda has a gift that’s creatively articulated. I’ve already eagerly added ALL THE MISSING GIRLS to my print TBR pile.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of The Zest Quest. Digital advanced copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
Category: Mystery & Thrillers, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 11, 2017)
Rated 5 out of 5, Recommended Read!