The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Now optioned for a major movie by the company behind Winter’s Bone, Babel, Being John Malkovich and the TV series True Detective.
A compulsive debut that reveals how, even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems…
I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the colour of her eyes or what they look like when they're scared. But I will.
Mia Dennett can't resist a one-night stand with the enigmatic stranger she meets in a bar.
But going home with him might turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life…
Don't miss Mary Kubica's next novel, Pretty Baby!
I must admit I wasn't entirely sure I would enjoy or even like this book at the beginning. It didn't really hook me but it intrigued me so I kept going. I am glad in parts that I did as it was much better than I thought it would be. I was a bit annoyed at first with all the jumping from past to present but it wasn't too difficult to keep pace.
The story is told to us the reader from different points of view flashing back and forth between before and after the kidnapping which presumably was intentional to build suspense. The characters were not particularly well fleshed out but we are given just enough information about them to make them work in this novel. Mia is one of two daughters in the Dennett family where their powerful egotistical father James reins supreme, their mother, Eve, has been downtrodden over the years and as a result becomes a kind of non person. Grace the older of the two daughters is very like her father, ambitious, cruel, driven and the apple of daddy's eye.
Mia is the black sheep really, she doesn't want to follow in her fathers' and sisters' footsteps and become a lawyer, she seems to rebel at every opportunity and packed her bags and left the ancestral pile when she was eighteen. The family have little or nothing to do with her, though she loves her mother she feels that too many years of her domineering father have destroyed any fight her mother might have had so Mia resigns herself to being alone. One failed relationship after another Mia never seems to find what she's looking for, typically she gets herself into relationships with men who don't value her and she finds herself one night sitting in a bar waiting for another looser who cancels the date at the last minute. With nothing better to do she sits and drinks and finds herself flirting with a stranger, Colin Thatcher and ends up going home with him.
We learn that Colin has in fact been paid to abduct and hand her over to a criminal for ransom. Things don't go to plan when for reasons only known to him Colin has second thoughts and he instead takes Mia to a remote cabin in Minnesota where they go into hiding since he is now fearful that the criminal Dalmar will be coming to find him as well.
Colin has to keep Mia hidden and so threatens her to keep her with him but overtime she realises that Colin is not the monster she first believes him to be and he begins to realise that there's not a great deal of difference between him and her. They begin to build trust between them and eventually Mia stops trying to escape.
The book is told from the points of view of Colin, Eve, and Gabe Hoffman the police detective who is investigating Mia's disappearance which did signify to me levels of control over what the author wants the reader to think and feel in this very uncontrollable situation. Gabe is blocked almost every time from Mia's father which frustrates and intrigues him in equal measure. Eve is racked with guilt that she has allowed her relationship with her daughter to become so damaged because of her domineering husband and is desperate to put things right when she fears she may never see Mia again.
It's inevitable that Stockholm Syndrome sets in for Mia, alone, separated from her family, her life, her friends, she can only rely on Colin/Owen to provide and protect her and so their relationship becomes one of dependency and need. She no longer wants to escape, she grows accustomed to being with him and as he starts to show her kindness she even grows to love him.
The story moves along at a good pace although some of the character building pages are a little dull on the whole it was a good read. I did guess the ending but it had a double twist which I didn't see coming and it's only the last chapter that we hear Mia's 'voice'.
A good all round entertaining read, silly to compare it to Gone Girl which every book seems to be doing these days with any psychological thriller, this is a good enough book to stand alone and be judged on its own merits. A good job by Mary Kubica and worth 4 stars from me.