The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan is an addictively intriguing mystery novel about teenage girl Zoe who was involved in a tragic accident that left three of her classmates dead. Now, three years later, after serving her time, Zoe and her mother is trying to start over and create a “second-chance life” for themselves. Zoe’s mother therefore demands Zoe to keep the past tucked far away, hiding it even for her new husband. But this new life and new husband soon turns out not to be so perfect after all.
Gilly Macmillan makes a great job in keeping you in the dark about the plot twists all the way through the end. For a long time, when I read the book, I had no idea what to expect – is it turning into a murder story, a love story, a suspense novel or what? - which is such a good thing. (Don’t you just hate it when you can figure the whole intrigue out just by reading the blurb of a book?) What’s so different about “The Perfect Girl” is that the death of Zoe’s mother is not the surprise in this book and that the mystery plot is not really centered around what happened, but around exploring the facets of the characters’ lives that brought them to that moment in time. What Zoe, and the readers, soon finds out is that the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.
The story is told from the first person perspectives of Tessa, Zoe’s aunt, and her loving yet alcoholic husband, Richard, as well as Zoe, her stepbrother, Lucas, and Sam, Zoe’s attorney, which gives you a chance to get into their minds and to see the messy, dysfunctional family from different perspectives.
Gilly Macmillan is so good at keeping the characters secret and only slowly and deliberately revealing them one by one, keeping you itching to learn more about the persons and their reason for behaving the way they are.
This slow-burning, intriguing book proves that a good crime book doesn’t need complicated twists or excessive violence to be a compelling read. This touching story with strong three-dimensional characters is an excellent, addictive page-turner nevertheless.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Gilly Macmillan