The Perfect Girl Hardcover – 6 Sep 2016
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"A compelling read for fans of psychological suspense."--Library Journal review of THE PERFECT GIRL
"With lovely prose, depth of character and an intelligent narrative, Macmillan lifts the level of suspense with stiletto-like precision: a tiny graze here, a shallow cut there and, eventually, a thrust into the heart. At once profoundly unsettling and richly rewarding."--Richmond Times-Dispatch
"As the suspenseful, serpentine tale unreels from the alternating perspectives of several key players, readers will be rooting for the resilient, resourceful Zoe all the way to the perfectly executed final twists."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"I DEVOURED The Perfect Girl. An incredible page turner with awesome characters and suspense. Bravo."--Kate White, New York Times bestselling author
"Gilly Macmillan (What She Knew) deftly explores the intricacies of relationships and the bonds that tie families all while ratcheting up the suspense in this page-turning thriller."--Real Simple magazine
"With tightly drawn characters, a fascinating storyline and absolutely exquisite narration, The Perfect Girl is sure to keep readers up all night. Gilly Macmillan proves once again to be a master of the written word and is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors. Literary suspense at its finest."--Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author
"Macmillan captivates readers with a story just as addictive as her first... [and] shines when exploring the intricacies of relationships... Fans of Tana French, Ruth Ware, and Gillian Flynn will become completely entrenched in the unfolding details."--BookPage
From the Back Cover
Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding that Zoe do the same.
Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of Zoe's life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead.
In the aftermath, everyone--police, family, Zoe's former solicitor, and Zoe herself--tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.See all Product description
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Top marks for the writing, the intense feelings, the plot. For me I just couldn’t get excited enough to want to keep reading it, I did of course, and it was an ok book I just wanted more.
I loved her debut.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The Perfect Girl is a story that takes place over just 24 hours (or less) and told from the point of view of several characters (not always well done, but I liked it here). But it mostly centers around Zoe, a teenage musical prodigy with a criminal past that haunts her. I will not post any major spoilers! I promise. At the start of the book, we find Zoe just about to perform for the first time in her "Second Chance Life" alongside her new stepbrother, who is also a skilled musician. By the end of the first chapter, however, you learn that Zoe's mother doesn't survive the evening. And so off you go into the literary adventure that is discovering what happens to mom and why. Quite a story unfolds!
I say it's a bit soapy, in a good way, in that this book has it all: murder, criminal pasts, tragic diagnoses, affairs, addictions, and teenage angst. That said, I've never actually watched soap operas because I can't take them seriously with all that bad acting and lighting, but have enjoyed movies and shows called "prime time soap operas" such as Desperate Housewives or the more serious, Secrets and Lies. This book carried that sort of dark tone. I loved it. But I mention this aspect because I know not everyone does love this style. Stick to your laborious Tana French reads, if that's the case! I need a story that moves.
The interesting thing about this book, is how Zoe goes from defendant in the beginning to play judge by the end. You'll understand that, when you read it, because she was deprived of real justice once, and left unfairly unforgiven. In the end, she gets a unique chance to give justice and forgiveness that she doesn't believe the system is capable of. I wouldn't say the twists are totally shocking, but the finer details thereof are. See, throughout the book you do get glimpses of each character's meaningful past. For Zoe, her criminal conviction for killing her "friends" is a big part of the story. It haunts her, and she is caught in a frustrating position because of it. She had to face many months in "the Unit" (which, for non-British friends, sounds like the equivalent of the U.S. version of the juvenile delinquent center), and her account of what happened on the night she got her friends killed is not only upsetting because she was bullied by said friends, but also something sinister lurks in just one line that could go unnoticed by a speed reader. (Something about a drink tasting funny.) The reader is led to believe Zoe didn't deserve her conviction and reputation as a killer. She has obvious inner turmoil, which is not allowed to be addressed because her mother has since divorced Zoe's dad and remarried Chris. Chris needs Zoe's mom, Maria, to be the picture of perfection at all times. He is wealthy and refined, and will accept nothing less from his family. And so he doesn't exactly know about Zoe's past, nor does Zoe's new stepbrother. Not yet.
Or does he? Something dark unfolds throughout the novel as Lucas (the stepbrother) reveals something from his past to Zoe and her mother through a script he's written and emailed them. Lucas, you see, is not interested in music at all, but film making. But daddy doesn't like it. Without giving anything away, I'll just say...there could possibly be a second reason why Maria and Chris insist that Lucas and Zoe sleep with their iPods playing the classical music other than memorizing the piece for performances. What else do the parents not want the kids to hear at night? This book was cleverly written, and all the characters had a unique purpose and distinct profile. I will definitely read this author's work again. Each chapter was brief and to-the-point, which I very much appreciate more than books with lots of fluff and overly indulgent details. Each narrator was relatable in their own way. I felt like an observer of the story itself.
So the story of that night in which Maria ends up dead unfolds through the eyes of Zoe, her aunt Tessa, Lucas's script, Tessa's husband, and Sam who was Zoe's solicitor (defense attorney) in the past. They are forced from their vision of family perfection into "the system" which Zoe has very good reason not to trust. So in the end, the defendant becomes the judge and I rather enjoyed the ride.
I think you would like this book if you also enjoyed other dark secrets novels set in the UK such as, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins or Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes.
Well, Zoe and her mother try to escape, but a dark past has a way of following along, despite the fact that Zoe is a gifted pianist.
Zoe and her half brother Lucas are all prepared to give a dual piano concert when the past makes itself known. What follows is a claustrophobic character-based study--brilliantly told. A murder heightens the drama,
This is an excellent psychological mystery with surprises. A wonderful book! It kept me wondering -- and shocked me -- with an incredible conclusion..
The gist of this story is how Zoe, central character, had gone through a traumatic event involving her drunk driving and ultimately through circumstances during the driving, loses control of the car and kills three passengers. She ends up in a children's rehabilitation center since she's a minor. We know little about her during this period other than she was supposedly bullied and ended up being liked by a "popular" boy which caused the bullying. Here is where the author could've used the high IQ or something else to create Zoe's world of exclusion but didn't.
We're fast forwarded and doing look backs as Zoe and her mother go into a "Second Chance Life." Her parents' marriage had dissolved and her mother happens to meet a very wealthy businessman taking them from a farm life to a luxury life, along with his piano gifted son, only there's never any real stress placed on how this change affects Zoe or her mother until the night of a piano concert at church. A parent of one of the deceased passengers shows up and everything begins to unravel only this doesn't add up.
Suddenly, we find out her mother has problems with her husband, not a surprise at all. Her semi step brother is the epitome of a kid living in fear of his father. Not a surprise at all. And in come all the other characters whether directly impacting the story or not.
The ending is pathetic. Zoe is someone who can't understand her own inner rage and teaches her step brother how to express his through misdirection. Needless to say, the murder in the story is dull and not unexpected.
There are a number of critics out here that give the writing style credit and yes, it does move along but I found myself skimming through passages because there was so much unnecessary filler. If you're someone who likes a neatly packaged story with predictable people, this will suit you.