How well do we really know the people we call our friends? Megan Miranda, author of ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, delves into this question, chillingly examining the notion that a seemingly intimate friendship can mask dark secrets in her latest novel, THE PERFECT STRANGER.
Just when Leah Stevens, a disgraced journalist who has been ousted from her job, needs a fresh start, she runs into an old roommate she hasn’t seen in years. Emmy Grey has just had a bad breakup and is planning on starting fresh in small-town Pennsylvania; she convinces Leah to join her. But things start to unravel when a local woman with a notable resemblance to Leah is found bludgeoned nearly to death.
Then Emmy goes missing. Has something bad happened to her? Could her disappearance have something to do with the assault? As the police dig into both cases, the anonymity Leah sought in this new town starts to crumble and she is forced to face the questions the police have begun to ask: Who is Emmy Grey? Did she ever exist at all?
This novel is full of layers, pieces that may or may not fit together. Being a journalist, Leah approaches her personal investigation as if she’s researching an article; she tries to get sources to open up to her, analyzes their motivations and biases, questions what she thinks she knows, and looks for a paper trail.
But Emmy seems to be a woman who has no paper trail. Is it because she was trying to get away from a bad boyfriend? Or could there be another reason? The tension is palpable as Leah and the reader realize that the police may think Leah fabricated Emmy—and that Leah has no real way to prove that she exists.
As Leah chases the mystery of Emmy’s identity, she must face her own—the reason she lost her career as a journalist and was forced to leave behind her old life. She’s a person who will relentlessly pursue an investigation—and is willing to do questionable things to make sure that the truth comes out. Moral and ethical questions abound as more details arise about Leah’s past and present investigations, making for a satisfying and twisty mystery.
Fans of GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN looking for another mystery about women with dark and secret pasts will find lots to love in THE PERFECT STRANGER.
Sarah Jane Abbott works in editorial for Simon & Schuster children’s books.