When I selected this book to review, I knew I could count on this author to deliver an awesome suspense novel. I was not disappointed. I have read another Wendy Corsi Staub novel and it was a well-written story crafted so perfectly that it left me hungry for more. This novel does the same thing. I found it hard to put down and it kept me turning the pages for the rest of the story.
The Perfect Stranger touches on a fear that a lot of people have: Internet safety. In this case, safety in the blogosphere. I’ve been blogging for years but I was not always discreet about my blog posts or very careful about what I shared. That came later. But even still, there is that fear, that not-knowing of whether I am safe from evil predators on the Web. (And there are lots of them!) So that is why I was interested in reading this story. This story is just one example of how blogging can go wrong when we are not very careful about what we share.
There’s also the issue of who we can trust on the Internet. If I don’t know someone on the Internet that I know in real life, I don’ trust them right away. I give them SOME trust, but not COMPLETE trust. No matter who that person is, they have to EARN my complete trust. Especially since I have children I need to protect. And the problem with one of the characters in this story is that she gives her blogging buddies complete trust. She even calls them her “friends” and I could only think, “They’re not your friends!” They are acquaintances. They are fellow bloggers. Not a friend. A friend is someone who, first of all, you can trust. And you cannot trust some stranger on the Internet. There are too many creeps out there in cyberspace. Too many posers as well as people who do a really good job pretending to be someone they are not. Unfortunately, that character doesn’t get it. She is TOO trusting. And the other character who gets murdered should have realized it is NOT safe to share private information on your blog, or even with people you barely know in real life. Yes, I know these women are seeking support and kinship among fellow breast cancer patients, but there really, really needs to be a boundary in place on just how much is shared. Just because there is not someone commenting on a blog post does not mean it’s not being read. It could be read by an ex-con, a sex offender and, yes, even a crazy person with nothing better to do than torment victims they find online. And who is more vulnerable than someone fighting breast cancer?
Another issue this story addressed was how we can be so lackadaisical about having information available electronically that we fail to keep our guard up in public and be smart about our safety. I could only roll my eyes and wonder why a character was being so stupid as to leave out the papers about where she’ll be staying at a hotel, along with her name and address on those papers, and thinking, oh, I can just look it up on my phone, no biggie. Well, leaving stuff like that out in the big, wide world where anyone can come across that information sets her up for danger. A killer could easily find her after finding those papers or someone could use her name to order stuff through the mail and ruin her credit by not paying for anything. Or there’s even the case of identity theft. There is just so much that could go wrong there. Even if we can look up information on a laptop or phone, don’t leave paperwork lying around for anyone to get hold of!
Now, all that said, I really enjoyed this story. The characters are so well put together and you can easily distinguish who is who just by reading their blog entries or how they act/talk. I was really on the edge of my seat trying to figure out who the killer was and, oh my gosh, the ending left me totally stunned! The killer was certainly NOT who I thought it was and I was shocked when that information was revealed at the end. Wow! I really enjoyed this story because it made me think and it kept me guessing on what happened next. What did happen next was certainly not what I expected. Although there were a couple of things in this story that were not covered at the end, I still liked this novel and recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading suspense.
In New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub's new thriller, one woman finds herself in the crosshairs of a twisted predator who might just be masked behind a familiar screen name . . .
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 . . .