There certainly was enough hype about this book this spring to warrant a read. My copy has a sticker on it that says, “Thriller of the Year” with which I take umbrage. When I think of “thrillers” I think about being on the edge of my seat dying to, but scared to, turn the pages. There are unsavory people here, and plenty of lying, cheating, and creepiness. But I was never scared to turn a page or worried for any of the characters' safety. That being said this a great read with plenty to speculate about and unusual character development. It has been a while since I read a book where I didn't like, even a little bit, any of the main characters!
Nick and Amy appear to be the perfect couple. Both are well educated, smart, and good looking. On the fifth anniversary of their wedding Amy goes missing. A good one third of the book is a set up for you, the reader, to hate and suspect Nick of murdering her. Amy was independently wealthy when she married Nick. She was also an extraordinary beauty, popular and professional before they both lost their jobs and moved to Nick's home town to run a local bar. Nick also teaches part-time at the community college. Once Amy suddenly disappears it comes out that she was not happy being away from NYC, they had spent all of her money, and Nick has been having an affair with a student of his. The police proceed making what they believe to be a clear murder case against Nick. Nick does himself no favors by lying and trying to cover up his indiscretions. Evidence starts to pile up which Nick swears has been planted.
Looking at Nick and Amy the reader soon sees that these are not normal people. One is a sociopath and the other a narcissist. Amy's parents aren't normal either. They have spent a lifetime creating a series of children's books about their daughter called “The Amazing Amy” series, then trying to make her live up to their expectations. At first they back Nick but then turn against him. Nick's father is a very mean and vindictive man suffering from Alzheimers but aware enough to still get out of the nursing home and haunt his family. The only one in Nick's corner is his sister who stays loyal to the end.
You will not be disappointed in this book, and if you are like me you will almost have it figured out but there will be just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end. Be prepared to have the hair stand up on the back of your neck when the real crimes are all revealed. It is disturbing to think about the ramifications of being in a relationship you can't get out of when your partner is a sociopath. What would you do if you were innocent of a crime but all the evidence pointed to you? What lengths would you go to if you needed to free yourself from a relationship that seems to be killing you? What would you do if the person you married isn't who you thought they were? What if you found out your partner is truly evil? And here is one for you, what would it be like if you were so beautiful that all your life people just wanted to give you things and be near you? Could you ever learn to be a normal person with empathy and humility? Are there people like that? Are sociopaths born or are they products of their environment? Is narcissism inherent or learned?