It had been a while since I read a “whodunnit,” so I was eager to crack open the latest thriller by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Wendi Corsi Staub. After a solid year of reviewing Young Adult/New Adult/Dystopian/ Paranormal/ Urban Fantasy novels, it’s evident I enjoy coming-of-age while crushing on the bad boy and saving the world from evil stories as much as the next blogger. It was a nice change of pace, however, for the protagonist to be a grown woman and the antagonist to be human. =)
In The Perfect Stranger, a small group of breast cancer survivors share common experiences and emotions through blogging. Despite never meeting in person, they have grown close by reading and commenting on each other’s posts about the unexpected journey: diagnosis, treatment, recovery. They confide fears and hopes with these strangers, often being more candid with them than with their own families. When news spreads that one of the bloggers has died – and not from cancer – the other women agree to meet (for the first time) at the funeral. While mourning the loss of their friend, concerns arise that the victim may have shared too many personal details and photos online. Did one of her followers or fellow bloggers take advantage of the information posted for all to see? Had the other bloggers made the same mistakes? Was one of them the killer?
I really enjoyed reading this mystery, and I did not guess the killer before the ending. There are several characters in the book, but it is easy to catch on and keep up with all the players. I liked the pace of the story – the plot unfolds during events that occur on three consecutive weekends: the murder, the funeral and the big reveal. In hindsight, the clues were sprinkled throughout the story, and a better armchair detective might have figured out what was going to happen. I did not find anything obvious or predictable, and the ending was a surprise for me.
As a blogger, I could really relate to several sentiments expressed by the lead character, Landry. I have called fellow bloggers “friends,” even though we have never communicated outside of blogs, FaceBook and email. I have been nervous when meeting an online friend for the first time, and I have wondered if we would we have been friends if we met face to face first. It is awesome how a common interest or shared experience can unite strangers through blogging and social media.
I also enjoyed the author’s writing style. In the Prologue of the book, we meet Laundry as she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor asked her to “come by the office in person,” and she is “blindsided, numbly staring at the doctor pointing the tip of a ballpoint pen at the left breast on the anatomical diagram.” As the word “malignancy” sinks in, Laundry begins to feel nauseous. “The tinny taste of fear fills her mouth, joined by bile as her stomach pitches and rolls, attempting to eject the tuna sandwich she devoured in the carefree life she was still living at lunchtime.”
This was the first title by Wendy Corsi Staub that I have read; she has several other novels and I look forward to reading more of her work! If you are a fan of suspense thrillers, you should check out this author and this book!
“In a word: terrifying…” —RT Book Reviews
“Solid gold suspense!” —Lee Child
THE PERFECT STRANGER (Harper paperback, on sale July 29) is the second creepy thriller from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub that explores the world of internet predators.
New York Times bestseller WENDY CORSI STAUB is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels. Wendy now lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children. Learn more about Wendy at www.wendycorsistaub.com