From the moment I picked up “The Perfect Stranger” by Megan Miranda and read the synopsis on the back of the novel at Books-A-Million, I knew I was going to be hooked. I’ve said this before, but I can usually tell if I’m going to like a book or not by about the first 50 pages. With “The Perfect Stranger,” I already knew by page 9.
If you’re a fan of mystery/thrillers like “The Girl on the Train” or “The Couple Next Door”, you need to read “The Perfect Stranger”.
The book opens with the main character, Leah Stevens giving a small glimpse into how her life has ended up to where she is now. Prior to the present, she was simply a Boston journalist, working to prove herself and chasing after a story. The story however, became too personal for her, she grew too attached, and ultimately, she made a decision that cost her everything. With her reputation tarnished and the potential for a lawsuit, she had to act, and she had to act fast.
After a chance encounter with a former roommate, Emmy Grey, who is similarly looking for a new start, they decide to move to rural Pennsylvania and begin a new life. But was it really fate that brought them back together? Or, after eight years of never hearing from Emmy, was it something more conceived than that?
Upon moving to into a small house by a lake in the woods of Pennsylvania, Leah receives a job as a teacher and Emmy, more of a free spirit, takes a seemingly sketchy late-night job at a motel.” Only Leah has no idea which one or where.
Fast forward a bit and now Leah and Emmy are falling into the swing their new lives. It seems almost as if things may actually work out for Leah. That she was able to escape her mistake relatively unscathed. However, when a local woman with a shocking resemblance to Leah is found severely injured and left for dead by the lake, things start to get interesting.
And not only that. It’s not until a few days later that Leah realizes she hasn’t seen Emmy in almost a week. As Leah tries to work with the police to file a missing person report, she realizes just how little she truly knows about her roommate with whom she has shared so many of her own secrets.
Emmy left behind no paper trail. Her name is not on any past leases and no car registrations or documents can be found. Was Emmy Grey even truly her name? Leah is not fully certain. And when the police continue to dig and come up empty-handed…. They being to wonder if Emmy Grey ever existed to begin with.
When Emmy’s car is found underwater in the nearby lake, Leah rushes to the scene only to find that it is not Emmy who is found within the car, but a man who Leah had seen with Emmy before. A murder investigation ensues and at one point, Leah feels as though she is a suspect herself.
From that point on, I felt like I had physically joined Leah on the emotional quest for the truth. I was invested. I had to know what really happened. Where was Emmy? Was that even her name? Does Emmy even exist? Or did Leah invent her during a time of desperation?
Leah spends the rest of the book trying to figure out what is going on. Using her former reporting skills as a way to find out facts and details. Reaching out to people from not only her own past, but others as well. The book flips between flashbacks and the present at hand. The flashback scenes have a way of giving you just enough to satisfy your former questions, but also leaving you wanting to know more.
That’s all I’m going to say on the story line as I don’t want to give away too much. This is a book any mystery/thriller lover NEEDS to experience on their own.
I related to this character so much. The way she feels for other people and wants to help them. As a former reporter myself, I could truly put myself into her shoes. I understood her trials and hardships of trying to remain detached from a difficult story. I loved the way the author described what it’s like to have to write a tragic news story.
She wrote: “I’d had to practice detachment early on, when the shock of blood was too sharp, when I felt too deeply, when I saw a thousand other possibilities in the slack face of a stranger. Now I couldn’t shake it - it was one of my top skills. It was the only way to survive on real crime: the raw blood and bone, the psychology of violence. But too much emotion in an article and all a reader sees is YOU. You need to be invisible. You need to be the eyes and ears, the mechanism of the story. The facts, the terrible, horrible, blistering facts, have to be compartmentalized. And then you have to keep moving, on to the next, before it all catches up with you.”
Upon reading that section, I realized that the author truly gets it. She either had experience or really did her research. Not only here, but throughout the book, she describes what being a journalist is like in a way that is just so spot on, I reread it multiple times in awe.
This author has a writing style that just really appealed to me. Her use of metaphors and detailed descriptions just really brought this book from simply a good read to an outstanding novel that I will recommend to others.
This is my first book that I have read by Megan Miranda, but after how much I enjoyed “The Perfect Stranger”, you best bet I will be going out and purchasing “All the Missing Girls” quite soon! 😊