Betrayal is redefined in Karen Perry’s ‘Girl Unknown’

Title: Girl Unknown
Author: Karen Perry
Genre: Suspense
Publisher: Henry Holt
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Length: 304 pages
Available: 6 February 2018


girlunknownDavid and Caroline Connolly are trying hard to put their life back together. At least, that’s what it looks like from the outside. Following Caroline’s public affair with another man at the school her children attend, Caroline and David are doing their best to keep moving forward. And David is close to having everything he’s always dreamed of: a tenured professor position at a university in Dublin. But when a student shows up at his office claiming to be his daughter, the ice the Connolly family is walking on begins to crack.

“I’ve come to look at that moment as the point in which my life split–like a page folded over and creased down the middle so everything fell into before or after.”
loc. 76

Karen Perry (a pen name for Karen Gillece and Paul Perry) weaves together a disturbing tale told from alternating perspectives. From David’s point of view, we see his struggle with the memories his daughter’s sudden appearance in his life brings back. From Caroline’s, a woman made out to be jealous of her husband’s relationship with his newly found daughter. Her gut instinct tells her that there’s more to this girl’s story than what she’s telling, but David won’t listen. Not even when the lies Zoe, his daughter, have told begin to unravel.

“The fact that he might have shared something so intimate with her–a secret so deeply private–felt like the worst kind of betrayal.”
loc. 3869

What Perry has created in Girl Unknown isn’t so much a suspenseful tale, but an examination of the fragility of one family’s connection to each other. Where Caroline’s betrayal–her affair–is out in the open and decidedly bad, other moments between the Connolly family members will make the reader begin to question their own definition of what constitutes a betrayal. Where some connections break and bend under the stress of Zoe’s appearance, others strengthen, as this cast of characters races towards a dark, explosive ending. With its unlikeable characters and dark twists, fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train will enjoy this slow-building suspense.

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