Gilly MacMillan's first novel, What She Knew, was an Edgar nominated, New York Times Bestseller. Her second novel, The Perfect Girl, is newly released.
Seventeen year old Zoe is a brilliant piano virtuoso. Her mother Maria has nurtured her career from the very beginning. An accident three years ago ended with one of Zoe's friends dead. But, she's served her time, she and her mother have moved and they have a new family unit. But while giving a concert in their new hometown, a man bursts in ranting and disrupts the event. And six hours later, Maria is dead......
Who killed Maria is the question that needs answering by the end of the book. And there are a few obvious choices. But it is the exploration of the characters, their lives, their thoughts and their reasoning that make The Perfect Girl a 'literary suspense' novel.
There are eight main characters in The Perfect Girl, but only four of them are given a voice with their own chapters. I was surprised at those that were - Tessa and Richard, Zoe's aunt and uncle and Sam, Zoe's previous solicitor. A fifth, Lucas - Zoe's new stepbrother, we come to know through his film script.
Zoe is driven to be perfect - in her piano playing and in her behavior. After all, this is her Second Chance with her new Second Chance family in their new Second Chance home. It's heartbreaking to read Zoe's chapters, as we learn of her past and the events that lead to that fateful night. But I found her a hard character to actually like. Maria is also driven as well to make everything 'perfect'. Maria is not given a voice and we only learn about her from others - notably her sister Tessa (who seems to be the most reasonable character) Chris, Maria's new husband, also only becomes known through his actions and dialogue described by others. (But he's a real piece of work) It was Uncle Richard that I was drawn to the most, despite his spectacular lack of perfection. I understand Sam's inclusion in the book, but felt he was quite removed from the 'main event'.
These are all fractured people with fractured lives and secrets, some holding it together better than others. It was hard to really like any of them, but as a 'removed' observer, I was caught up in their turmoil. The final whodunit isn't the ending I had predicted, but seems, well, just perfect. Read an excerpt of The Perfect Girl.
"Gilly Macmillan is the Edgar Nominated and New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew. She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she's worked as a part-time lecturer in photography, and now writes full-time. She resides in Bristol, England." You can find Gilly MacMillan on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.
I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.