Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Perfect Girl – Gilly Macmillan

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller

The Perfect Girl is the kind of book that you can get lost in, a totally compelling read that urges you to read just a few more pages and I enjoyed every minute of the journey.

Musical prodigy Zoe Guerin’s mother Maria is found dead very close to the beginning of the book, soon after Zoe and her Stepbrother Marcus perform a duet at a church in Bristol to mark Zoe’s comeback after she was incarcerated for causing the death of three teenagers. Having served her time she  has now  moved well away from the scene of the crime to have her ‘second-chance life’, complete with a new baby sister.

As is common to all of these types of books you can barely manoeuvre between the various issues being tossed from the pages; this one includes bullying, alcoholism, childlessness, hothousing and a whole host of others all of which muddy the waters as to who was twisted enough to kill Maria.

The story also uses multiple viewpoints to tell the sorry tale so we hear from Zoe, her aunt Tessa, Tessa’s husband Richard, Marcus and the attorney all have their say. This switching around is managed skilfully and I have a fondness for looking at an issue through differing eyes which in this instance really added to the tension and who and why the crime was committed. It is also an opportunity to give the reader the background, particularly that of the two sister’s Maria and Tessa although on reflection I’m not sure quite how convinced I was by Maria’s transformation from wild child to pushy parent but I always find with books like this, there is so much enjoyment to be gained from riding the waves it is best to suppress the little niggles that tend to crop up.

The one thing Gilly Macmillan has proved is that she really can tell a cracking good story. The plot was meticulously put together, the voices on the whole convincing and the tension created by a violent confrontation at the concert is successfully maintained throughout.

Lest you think this is a book that can only be read as a frivolous time waster albeit a pleasurable one, it isn’t. If you can stop yourself steaming through at a pace, there is a lot said about those people who mask their true selves to the world, how that works in reality and how manipulative adults cause confusion and distress to those around them. Some of the characters in this book may be at the extreme edge of that type but the truth told in The Perfect Girl is not something that just appears in fiction.

I for one thoroughly enjoyed the mix of characters, the underlying storyline of whether children who commit crime can ever put the past behind them to live a life that is some form of redemption is one that I find appealing and although I had worked out some of the ending, there was still enough to surprise me and I’m going to leave the review by saying it raises some difficult questions for the reader which may unsettle some. Although this book didn’t quite blow me away the way Burnt Paper Sky did, the same elements were present that made this an exceptionally good read.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little Brown Book Group (UK) who allowed me to read a copy of this book; this review is my unbiased thank you to them. The Perfect Girl will be published in paperback on 22 September 2016 but is currently available in eBook format and as a hardback book.

First Published UK: 3 March 2016
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
No of Pages 464
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US



A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

26 thoughts on “The Perfect Girl – Gilly Macmillan

  1. I’ve been looking forward to reading this one for a while now, but then couldn’t access it when my ereader died. I spent last night installing Kindle on my new tablet and hopefully will get started on it very soon. I really enjoyed Gilly Macmillan’s first novel, I think she is very talented.


  2. Yiu found a good one there. I understand what yiu mean that a book can be so compellingly written that yiu race ahead and do t always notice some of the issues raised. That must be quite a challenge formthenauthornto navigate, how much do they allow the pace to drop by adding more issue based content? A good topic for a creative writing class maybe


    1. You are right of course, a writer needs to get their views or character’s views across but that can be hard in this type of compulsive read where the reader’s focus can be on the main aspect of the book. This is why I read and don’t write!


        1. Yes there’s a natural assumption that if you read a lot, you’ve absorb the skills but I haven’t found that to be true – it keeps me in awe of the wonderful authors out there that do pull it off so well.


  3. I haven’t read you for a while (I know I must be dumb but as a man I’m already halfway there) and just wanted to say that good authors must love you … and readers too .. I do not recall seeing book reviews so balanced and so enjoyably readable as yours.


  4. The musical context for this one sounds really interesting, Cleo. And I do like that ‘unlayering’ of characters as a story goes on and you find out more about them. Add to that the larger questions the book addresses, and I’m not surprised you liked it so well. I’m very glad you enjoyed this one.


  5. I always love when you tell enough about a book for me to be absolutely certain about whether to add it to my TBR or not. In this instance, “bullying, alcoholism, childlessness” were the three crucial words… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Annie, I was a bit underwhelmed by the first one too – I’m glad I’m not the only one! I wouldn’t go so far as to say I didn’t like it, but I didn’t think it was as brilliant as many thought. I will definitely give this one a chance – Cleo is highly reliable with similar tastes to mine, especially in psychological thrillers.


      1. The ending left me completely indifferent, I don’t know. It’s one of those cases where the hype is just too much and I expected something spectacular and so twisty… Yeah, I know, I trust both of you 😀


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