Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Leah Stevens was on the fast track to be a great journalist, but a story that went terribly wrong has cost her her career and her reputation. And now she'll do anything to get away and escape the judgmental eyes of her former colleagues. A fortunate run in with an old roommate offers the perfect opportunity: Emmy Grey is moving the Pennsylvania and wants Leah to room with her. Emmy had come to Leah's rescue once before, and Leah is all too willing to let her do it again, taking her up on the offer immediately. 

Leah gets a job as a teacher, much to her mother's disappointment, and things are going fairly well until Emmy disappears. Their paths crossed less and less the longer they lived together, but the discovery of a body nearby - one that bears a marked resemblance to Leah - has Leah worried. As the days pass with no sign of Emmy, Leah finally brings the subject to the police. Of course Emmy is an adult and they aren't one bit concerned - until they find out Emmy Grey doesn't exist. 

Worried for her friend and unable to resist the need to make use of her journalistic skills, Leah becomes determined to find out what's happened. But as clues about Emmy and her guarded past begin to reveal themselves, Leah has to admit that she knows nothing about her longtime friend and roommate. 

Reading slumps are no fun, but finding a book that manages to get through even in the worst of slumps is always a great thing. That's what Megan Miranda's latest was for me, a book that caught and held my attention through a slump that still has yet to fully pass.

It succeeds in large part because of the numerous questions that begin to pop up as the book rolls along. First, what did Leah do that cost her her job? It's a big deal, something she keeps close and doesn't tell anyone in her new life. Even the reader doesn't find out until a good way into the story.

Then there's the question about Emmy - what happened to her and what's she been up to.

And the murdered woman who looks like Leah.

And the teacher accused of the murder, who's been harassing Leah.

And the notes Leah has been receiving that make it sound as though someone's been keeping a very close eye on her.

So many questions! All of them perfectly placed and timed to keep the book going at an almost breakneck pace. But they could have been, and are in lots of cases, a make or break situation for a book like this. Fortunately, The Perfect Stranger is a "make" rather than a "break." There were no massive jumps in logic and (for me) no need to stretch or suspend my disbelief to the point of almost breaking in order to continue with the story.  All of the questions fit together logically and cohesively and, the best part, wrap up nice and neat (but not too nice and neat) by the time the story rolls to its final stop.

The Perfect Stranger came to me at a time when I really needed to just lose myself in a good story and gave me exactly that and more. It was great fun, full of suspense, and perfect for anyone suffering from a wretched reading slump!

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