Girl Unknown Book Review – Psychological Thriller Novel by Karen Perry

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How quickly could the family we have created for ourselves unravel–and how far will we go to protect it? 

David and Caroline Connolly are swimming successfully through their marriage’s middle years―raising two children; overseeing care for David’s ailing mother; leaning into their careers, both at David’s university teaching job, where he’s up for an important promotion, and at the ad agency where Caroline has recently returned to work after years away while the children were little. The recent stresses of home renovation and of a brief romantic betrayal (Caroline’s) are behind them. The Connollys know and care for each other deeply.

Then one early fall afternoon, a student of sublime, waiflike beauty appears in David’s university office and says, “I think you might be my father.” And the fact of a youthful passion that David had tried to forget comes rushing back. In the person of this intriguing young woman, the Connollys may have a chance to expand who they are and how much they can love, or they may be making themselves vulnerable to menace. They face either an opportunity or a threat―but which is which? What happens when their hard-won family happiness meets a hard-luck beautiful girl?


Book Review

There are few things I enjoy more than reading a psychological thriller novel and being surprised in the last few pages. Girl Unknown delivers a punchy, unexpected twist just paragraphs from the novel’s timely end—an immensely satisfying proposition for my fellow suspense/thriller addicts. To our benefit, Girl Unknown offers plenty more than just a well-delivered close.

The authors, Karen Perry is a co-author team based in Dublin, crafted their characters with notable intention. Each member of the family has a history, habits, and perspectives that lend structure to the overall narrative. This technique allowed for an interesting play with the unique reactions that occur between different personas which seemed to mirror well the dynamic of a real family. 

It’s clear from the beginning that something may be off about the waiflike girl who strides into David’s office in Chapter 1. It’s the small seed of foreboding planted within beautifully moody sentences which makes the plot so beguiling. A psychological thriller can sometimes be more suspenseful when you have an inkling of what might happen. Suddenly you want nothing more than to watch it unfold. 

Above all, Girl Unknown is a study in the art of manipulation. An investigation of the startling effect one personality can have on an entire household. If the Connolly family is a shell with a few cracks, Girl Unknown is the hammer and she’s coming in swinging. As the pages continue, each chapter shifting between Caroline’s and David’s perspectives, we begin to see how this strange girl’s behavior changes based on the person she’s with. Tension builds as if the Connolly’s are standing on a track, a dark train is coming, and you want to yell for them to get out of the way. But as I haven’t found a way to transport myself into a book just yet, I had to make do with turning the pages as quickly as possible to see what might happen. 

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What would you change?

I’m sure a few readers will find it difficult to accept some of David’s choices. At times he comes off as almost naive. However, I found that this aspect of his personality tied in perfectly with what we come to know about him and the history of his marriage. While some readers have said his reactions to certain situations are questionable, I disagree and argue that this is one of the more realistic aspects of his character. 

The Bottom Line

Part suspense, part domestic noir, Girl Unknown offers an illuminating search into the darker side of human fallibility, moody characters you’ll want to unearth, plus a tense plot with a final twist you won’t see coming. 

Out of 10

Verdict: Buy It
Page Length: 304
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (February 6, 2018) 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review of Girl Unknown by Karen Perry. Keep scrolling for a rating breakdown and pro/con list.

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tag: Girl Unknown Book Review

Out of 10

Good Things

  • A final, unexpected twist in the last few paragraphs
  • Well-defined character perspectives
  • Beautifully moody writing

Bad Things

  • David's reactions can sometimes seem naive

The Breakdown

Writing Style

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