Sarah A. Denzil ~ My Perfect Daughter
Most mothers hope their little girl turns out like their dad, but not Zoe. She hopes the apple falls far from the tree.
Zoe didn’t meet her daughter the way most mothers do. She finds five-year-old Maddie alone and dirty on a countryside road. Frightened for Maddie’s safety, she picks her up and takes her back to her father, not knowing what she’s about to step into. Because Maddie wasn’t just lost, she was there to lure her serial killer dad’s new victim.
After escaping from the clutches of Maddie’s dangerous father, she bonds with the little girl. Only Maddie knows what it was like to be at that house. And when no family members come forward to claim Maddie, Zoe decides to adopt her. They move away to a safe house on the Cornish coast and become a family of their own. Zoe gets married and has another child, a baby brother for Maddie.
But Maddie is still traumatised by what she experienced. Diagnosed with callous and unemotional traits, Zoe has a tough job to ensure Maddie has the love and support she needs. Zoe truly loves her daughter – she wouldn’t change a thing about her. But there is a part of her that always stays alert. A part of her is afraid of Maddie.
And now, eleven years later, Maddie’s school bully is found dead, and another girl is missing.
Zoe can’t help but wonder… like father, like daughter?
For some reason, women love to read about gruesome murders and chilling situations. Perhaps it is because we try to work out what we would do if faced with a similar threat. Whatever the reason, many of us are drawn to thrillers and we spend our time figuring out all of the twists and turns.
Yet every now and then a thriller comes along that manages to wrong foot us all. My Perfect Daughter is one such book.
It’s utterly unputdownable.
There aren’t enough books that make me want to stay up late reading, but I was hooked and read the whole thing in a few hours. There’s something about the unknown and the idea that an innocent can be guilty that makes it compelling. And the ending is left open to interpretation, making us reconsider everything we think we know and come to our own conclusion.
The two stories come together well, as we learn more about what happened before when Maddie was a small child and how they saved each other. It provides a macabre backdrop for what comes next… The descriptions of torture and death are graphic but not glorified; they enhance the story without being unnecessarily gruesome.
Characters are well-written and developed. The relationship between Zoe and Maddie is believable, yet sinister. After everything they went through, it’s incredible they’ve both managed to rebuild their lives. Maddie is the perfect sullen teenager with a stepfather; torn between loyalties, her attitude is expected, but frustrating.
Zoe is someone to be admired and respected, although I do question why she is so trusting, considering her background, and how she makes her money… one would expect her to be more wary, rather than reveal so much of herself to strangers.
The first twist will not be a shock to seasoned thrillers, but the final ending may not be what you expect and could leave you with many unanswered questions and a racing heart.
I received a copy of the book from the author as part of Insta Book Tours. Opinions my own.