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All the Wrong Places


All the Wrong Places

Joy Fielding came to prominence way back in 1986 with the release of THE DEEP END. That novel also saw a top-notch film adaptation made that starred Oscar winner Tilda Swinton as a mother who would do anything to protect her young son, who may or may not have committed murder.

Since then, Fielding has continued to pump out quality mystery/thrillers. Her last handful of books have shown the same kind of “magic” as THE DEEP END. How can you dislike a novel that takes its title from a country music song? In this case, it’s the tune "Lookin' for Love" by Johnny Lee, which was a big hit from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. The next line in the chorus includes the title of Fielding's latest, ALL THE WRONG PLACES, which revolves around the lives of four women who are all related to one another in some way and each involved in various tense circumstances and/or difficult relationships.

At the start of the book, and sprinkled throughout, Fielding brings us into the mind of the killer. The four women are all tied to online dating, and the individual who is preying on them is utilizing that platform to find his next victim. Most people do not use their real names on these sites and even go by nicknames until they have a date and feel comfortable enough to share their real identity. In this case, the killer has marked out his next victim as the woman calling herself Wildflower. The best thing Fielding does here is that she never reveals the killer's identity or which of the female protagonists was actually Wildflower. That is, until it is too late for one of them.

"Things do not tie up easily, and there is much for the reader to ponder at the finale of ALL THE WRONG PLACES."

The women in question are Paige, her cousin and bitter rival Heather, best friend Chloe and mother Joan. The setting is Boston and the surrounding suburbs, and the way that Fielding goes from character to character without using a central narrator is a shrewd and unsettling move. Readers will be on edge the entire time trying to figure out which one of the ladies may be stepping into the middle of the spider's web.

Paige, allegedly known as Wildflower, probably does not need to use online dating. She is attractive, fun and well-grounded. However, she is seriously on the rebound after her ex-boyfriend Noah left her for Heather, her near-body double. She ends up finding a nice guy named Sam through the online dating sites and has a few dates that don't really go anywhere due to her fixation on the Heather and Noah situation. Her mother, meanwhile, has found success as a widow with an older gentleman also looking for love at the end of his life.

Chloe has a much more toxic situation. Her husband, Matt, is a serial cheater who has admitted to half a dozen sexual indiscretions that probably indicates the number could be at least twice that many. They have two young children who do not understand when mommy sends daddy away. Of course, agreed-upon meetings between Matt and his children come off as him playing the sad sack who just wants to come home and make mommy out to be the bad guy. Mommy also discovers through her kids about daddy's gun. It seems that Matt has another side of his persona, a violently bad anger issue, and this will lead to inevitable tragedy.

With all of this going on, we still have our faceless killer who refers to himself as Mr. Right Now lurking outside this circle of women, watching their every move. When he eventually makes a date with one of them, who we already have learned about via direct access to his darkest thoughts, he means for that night to end with another female victim at his hands. At the end of the novel, Fielding does a brilliant switch between two of the characters that puts one of them unwittingly in the killer's path.

Things do not tie up easily, and there is much for the reader to ponder at the finale of ALL THE WRONG PLACES. While dealing with a sudden tragedy involving one of the women, the switcheroo is done, and any thought of the book ending in a predictable fashion is now out the window. It is in this last moment that Fielding does her best work and shows why she is still a thriller writer with whom to be reckoned.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on March 22, 2019

All the Wrong Places
by Joy Fielding

  • Publication Date: March 12, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 1785767879
  • ISBN-13: 9781785767876