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The Perfect Girlfriend


The Perfect Girlfriend

When a novel is touted as being the “Top Debut Thriller of 2019,” my interest is piqued. I am known to go out of my way to find that next great thriller and am happy to say that I truly enjoyed THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND. Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Italy and Belgium, and worked for many years as a flight attendant, an experience that is directly put to good use in this creepy novel.

The prologue opens in the year 2000 when we briefly get a glimpse into the psyche of Juliette at the age of 11. Even back then, she had strong feelings about what it meant to be “The Perfect Girlfriend.” Some of this required being overly clingy and possessive, traits she was probably too young to recognize, but these parts of her personality would develop into her adulthood. We are then brought back to the present day and find Juliette a determined young woman.

" above-average thriller with just enough twists and surprises to keep you guessing right through to the end.... [T]he last paragraph is sure to induce a shudder in even the staunchest reader."

The object of this determination is her ex-boyfriend, Nate. Even though they only had a few dates, and it seemed obvious that he was never really into her, Juliette still feels compelled to reignite things. She thinks to herself that “revenge is a dish best served cold, and mine is going to be frozen.” We see everything from Juliette's perspective, which is quite entertaining. She refers to a moment 10 years earlier when she was dumped and discarded, and vowed she would never feel that way again. She believes that Nate had no right to dump her, as though she was worthless, and her mind instantly begins plotting.

The first thing she does is to get hired by the same airlines for which Nate works. Her job as a flight attendant keeps her traveling around, but her focus never leaves him. She is offered the position under the name of Elizabeth, and only then asks to be referred to by her middle name of Juliette. She does not want Nate to realize that she is on board until the ideal moment. She admits to loving the internet like a good friend, and is very adept at utilizing it in her plot to get Nate back --- but everything has to be on her terms.

Juliette begins with Nate's current girlfriend, Katie. She looks upon Katie as just another plaything to distract Nate from her. Then she discovers an app that will allow her to track all of Nate's messages --- a jilted lover's dream! Juliette is a determined young woman who does not trust anyone and views trust as a luxury. At this point the reader will surely recognize that Juliette is a demented individual, but she is just too entertaining to look away from and you will wait impatiently for what stunt she will pull off next.

Thankfully, Juliette has a whopper of a plan. After Nate has come to accept that an ex-girlfriend is working for the same airlines, he is lulled into a false sense of security. She fixes things so that she is going to be in Las Vegas at the same time as Nate, planning for this to be the night of his life. Juliette makes sure that Nate has plenty to drink until she springs on him the idea of going to The Little White Chapel and getting a Vegas marriage in the process. She assures him that this is harmless and easy to rescind. However, once she gets the “ring” on her finger, Juliette and her plot are just starting.

When Nate realizes the dire situation he is in, he reaches out to a friend who is an attorney and has him file paperwork for an annulment. But Juliette is not about to go away that easily, and things quickly escalate into full-blown thriller territory. This is much more than a rabbit being killed, like in Fatal Attraction. Juliette is an out-and-out sociopath and can quickly turn homicidal.

What really grounds this story as a true revenge thriller is the information Juliette does not share until much later in the book. It is only at that point that the reader learns just how long she has been plotting revenge on Nate and where that anger truly grew from. THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND is an above-average thriller with just enough twists and surprises to keep you guessing right through to the end. It is a flat-out fun novel to read, and the last paragraph is sure to induce a shudder in even the staunchest reader.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on April 5, 2019

The Perfect Girlfriend
by Karen Hamilton