Book Review: Wendy Corsi Staub’s The Perfect Stranger

July 28, 2014 4 out of 5, review 1 ★★★★

Book Review: Wendy Corsi Staub’s The Perfect StrangerTitle: The Perfect Stranger
Author: Wendy Corsi Staub
Genre: Suspense / Thriller
My Rating: four-stars
My Copy: Review Copy via Harper
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: During the darkest period of her life, Landry Wells found solace in a group of bloggers who had been in her shoes and lived to tell the tale. She's shared things with her online friends that even her husband and children didn't know. Things that now, looking back, make her uneasy.

One of the bloggers is dead, victim of a random crime—or was it? Did she trust too easily; reveal too much? At the funeral a thousand miles from home, Landry is about to come face to face at last with the others. These women are her closest confidantes in the world: they understand her; they know everything about her—and one of them might be a cold-blooded killer . . .

I’ve always wanted to read Wendy Corsi Staub’s books and when the opportunity came to review her upcoming release, The Perfect Stranger, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity! After reading The Perfect Stranger, you look at the internet a little differently.

As for characterization, we have a several characters that play a vital role. Just a quick note: if you’re the type that needs to focus on two or three characters in order to fully follow a story, you might want to proceed with caution since the amount of characters Staub introduces might overwhelm you. Take your time reading the first couple of chapters in order to get acquainted with everyone. Now, I’d say Landry is the most important character since she’s the one who initiates contact regarding attending Meredith’s funeral. I really liked her and although she loves being a wife and a mother, you can tell she longs for more than that. Then we have Elena, a first grade teacher who is struggling with the unwanted attention of a fellow co-worker. We also have Kay, who used to work as a federal prison guard and Jaycee who travels on business. Now all four women have something in common: their bloggers who came together online via a cancer support forum. You’ll get to know more about them as you read as well as that of Meredith, another blogger in their tight circle.

Narrative is third person and my only real annoyance is the way diction is used. For example, instead of “he smiled with watery eyes,” you get present tense with “he smiles with watery eyes.” At times, this was difficult to read and kept pulling me out of the story. Although, I’ll admit that halfway through Stranger, I didn’t notice it as much. I feel that this would have been better suited for a flashback / memory scene told in the present rather than the way she utilizes it. Despite that, it’s an engaging story.

As for the overall mystery of the killer’s identity…wow, I wasn’t expecting it to be that person. Of course, I won’t go into details about their identity because it ruins the book. I’d like to say I picked up on clues but sadly, I missed a few. My initial suspect obviously turned out to be wrong and I liked the way Staub set things up. What I would have liked would have been a little more exploration as to why they did it. Again we get a few clues here and there, but overall I feel as if it’s like real life, where sometimes you don’t get the answers you want. If that’s the way it was for the characters in the aftermath, then I can accept it as a reader.

What I really liked about The Perfect Stranger are all the emotions Staub makes you feel. As a blogger, you try to keep some of your real life private and yet other bloggers are quite open with theirs. I liked how Landry and company were worried about meeting in real life to questioning if their safety and that of their families. In this day in age, it’s easy to make friends online and of course not know who is behind that screen. It would have really easy for Staub to have turned The Perfect Stranger into some “stranger danger” cheesy novel, but instead reminds us to be cautious and it’s a stark reminder that we don’t even know the people closest to us.

If you’re a fan of thrillers, I definitely recommend Wendy Corsi Staub’s The Perfect Stranger. Just a bit of a warning: you’ll never want to come online again.

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