Review: The Perfect Daughter by Joseph Souza

Title: The Perfect Daughter by Joseph Souza
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


With The Neighbor and Pray for the Girl, Joseph Souza proved himself a master of twisty and unpredictable psychological suspense. In this riveting new novel, a mother is unwittingly drawn into the dark underbelly of her picture-perfect Maine town . . .

Shepherd’s Bay has been home to generations of lobstermen and their families. Lately, affluent newcomers have been buying up waterfront property and mingling uneasily with the locals. Tensions are high, especially since Blair Pryce—a teenage boy from the wealthier side of town—disappeared weeks ago. But another disturbing incident soon follows.

When high school junior Katie Lee and her friend, Willow Briggs, fail to come home after a night out, Katie’s mother, Isla, is frantic. Two agonizing days go by before Katie is found, bruised and bloodied, yet alive. Isla is grateful. But Willow, a wealthy newcomer from Los Angeles, is still missing. And Katie can’t remember anything about the night their disappearance.

Isla tries to help her daughter sort through her hazy recollections, and to recall the truth of her tangled friendship with privileged, beautiful Willow. At the hair salon she owns, Isla hears dark whispers about wild parties, drug deals, and love triangles gone wrong. How much truth is in the gossip? Is Blair’s disappearance linked to the others? And what other shocking secrets lie at the heart of Shepherd’s Bay—and of the family Isla is struggling to hold together?


The Perfect Daughter by Joseph Souza is an intriguing mystery.

Isla Eaves once thought she would escape her small town of Shepherd’s Bay, ME. But she returned home without finishing her college degree, and later married high school basketball star Ray. Now parents to high school junior Katie and eleven year old Raison, Isla is frustrated by Ray’s inability to support their family. She keeps the family financially afloat through her beauty salon where she counts on the wealthy newcomers to pay top dollar for their haircuts.  Adding to her stress is the addition of her Alzheimer stricken father to their household.

With so much going on at home, Isla is mildly concerned when Katie fails to return home from a party she attended with best friend, Willow Briggs.  Her concern turns to fear when Isla discovers her daughter is not at any of her friends’ houses and that Willow’s parents have not seen the teenagers either.   A couple of days later, Katie returns but suffering from a serious head injury, she cannot provide any information about what happened to her or where Willow might be.  Will her memory return in time to save Willow?

Isla is unhappy in her marriage but she cannot bring herself to separate from Ray.  She cannot count on him to provide financial or emotional support but she does not want to break up her family.  Always close to her children, Isla is troubled that Katie started to pull away after becoming friends with Willow. She knows her daughter is keeping secrets yet Isla implicitly trusts her daughter. However, after Katie goes missing, she discovers that she knows very little about her life outside their home. Could her new friendship with Willow be the reason for whatever happened to the young women?

Katie is fascinated by Willow from the first time she sees the newcomer. A transplant from Los Angeles, her new friend is everything Katie is not. Willow is beautiful, graceful, talented and her parents are quite wealthy. The teenagers are often unsupervised at the Briggs’ home and their evenings together are nowhere near as innocent as she portrays to her mom. Growing increasingly uneasy with Willow and her wealthy friends, will Katie be able to revert back to the life she had before befriending Willow?

Local police officer (and Isla’s former high school boyfriend) Karl Bjornson is quite worried about the missing teenagers.  He is working on the still unsolved disappearance of Dakota James, the son of a well to do single mom. Without any leads in Dakota’s case, Karl cannot help but wonder whether there is a connection between the disappearances. Lacking experience in these types of investigations, Karl continues pressing Katie for new information that will hopefully lead to finding Willow.  But will Katie reveal any new details about the night the girls went missing?

The Perfect Daughter is an engaging mystery with an interesting storyline.  The coastal setting is the perfect backdrop for the inevitable conflict between the financially struggling townspeople and the wealthy transplants.  The characters are three-dimensional with fascinating back stories. The investigation into what happened to Dakota, Katie and Willow is engrossing but a little slow moving. The plot is well-developed but the writing is occasionally a little stilted and some of the phrasing is slightly awkward. Although a bit predictable, Joseph Souza brings the mystery to a twist-filled conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Joseph Souza, Kensington Books, Mystery, Rated C+, Review, Suspense, The Perfect Daugher

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