Wednesday, August 20, 2014
THE PERFECT STRANGER by WENDY CORSI STAUB
Bloggers need to read this mystery novel ASAP. It's about a small group of bloggers who have had breast cancer. Each of them, after diagnosis, had felt terribly alone even though family and friends tried to help them. They turned to blogging and found friends who understood because it was their story too.
Then Meredith Heywood, the woman they all thought of as their sort of mother hen, dies suddenly. Everyone assumes it was cancer even though she hadn't yet confided in all of them that her cancer had returned and was terminal. Soon it is revealed that she was murdered. They all knew she would be alone that night because she blogged about it, along with possibly too many other details about her life. Could she have been killed by one of them?
We get to know each woman in the group, partly through excerpts from her blog. Most don't tell much about their real identity but now they worry about it even as they decide to attend her funeral. Only one, Jaycee, who hasn't really bonded that well anyway, declines to meet up with them. She does actually show up but they don't know what she looks like and she doesn't introduce herself. I kept suspecting one, then another, then another. Actually I didn't feel confident who the killer was until the end. Then of course it made perfect sense.
Anyone who blogs and has found a community of like-minded people who feel like close friends will understand the feelings of these women. And we all have those qualms occasionally about how much of ourselves we're revealing to the world. In my community of book bloggers most of us are quite open about our lives and I don't think that will change because of this book, but it does give me pause. Any intelligent person is aware that the internet can be a dangerous world. However, the friendships we have made within that community have been a blessing to us.
I also felt empathy and sometimes impatience with these characters because I too have cancer. I know how alone you can feel and that support groups are not the answer for everyone, so I was happy that blogging helped them as much as my online friends have helped me. Obviously, this story has more than one level as well as more than one suspect. I am so glad I read it and want all of my friends to read it too.