In THE PERFECT WIFE (A Jessie Hunt Psychological Suspense Thriller—Book One), Criminal profiler-in-training Jessie Hunt is sure she's finally put the darkness of her childhood behind her. She and her husband, Kyle, just moved from a cramped downtown Los Angeles apartment into a Westport Beach mansion. Kyle's promotion has them swimming in money. And Jessie is on the verge of getting her Master's degree in forensic psychology, the last step in her dream of becoming a criminal profiler.
But soon after their arrival, Jessie begins to notice a series of strange developments. The neighbors—and their au pairs—all seem to be hiding secrets. The mysterious yacht club Kyle is desperate to join is rife with cheating spouses, and with troubling rules of its own. And the notorious serial killer being held at the psychiatric hospital where Jessie is completing her degree seems to know more about her life than is normal—or safe.
As her world starts to unravel, Jessie begins to question everything around her—including her own sanity. Has she truly uncovered a disturbing conspiracy buried within a sunny, wealthy Southern California beach town? Does the mass murderer she's studying really somehow know the origin of her private nightmares?
Or has her tortured past finally come back to claim her?
I have read a lot of "middle-of-the-road" books lately. I haven't found one that wowed me but hoped this would be it. It wasn't. Just as Jessie, the main character, feels a continual niggling that something isn't right, but she can't put her finger on it- so too, did I feel that way when reading the story. I kept thinking; I should like this more than I do, why don't I?
It had elements lined up and capable of building a great tale, but everything and every person seemed superficial. I didn't know Jessie's husband enough to decide what kind of person he'd been before they'd moved or how he'd changed- other than Jessie's statements about how he'd changed. When he stays out at a nightclub instead of coming home for a planned dinner and fails even to call and inform Jessie that he wouldn't make it, and when she catches him using drugs, these actions are supposedly far out of character. The little community wrapped around a "yacht club" covering for prostitution felt too far-fetched. If even one wife knew what was going at that place, and all the wives gathered there for family-type functions mingling with these skimpily-clad "waitresses," I can't believe it. Not a single woman decided to cut her losses, divorce the husband, take half of everything, and escape that place? They all traded their dignity for some extra cash. Not acceptable. This whole plot point took up too much of the story, in my opinion. The backstory about her near-death experience and becoming a profiler, dealing with Crutchfield, were more interesting but less emphasized.
Two key facts were easily deduced. With the word "Junebug," I knew the relationship the serial killer of Jessie's past held with her. When Jessie woke up in the locked cabin with Natalia, I predicted how the rest of the story would play out. There wasn't enough foreshadowing of characters to make it plausible. A couple of short interrogations by Jessie about Kyle's past, and BOOM- this guy's deemed a maniac. She's a brilliant student who will be a top-notch profiler, but she lived with a guy for ten years and had no clues, no hints, no suspicions, NOTHING gave her pause about him.
The interviews with Crutchfield were way out there. I would accept that he'd known things about Jessie's past because he'd considered the serial killer who'd kidnapped her as a child his mentor, and he'd interacted with that person. I could not believe he'd take one look at her in the present and guess she was pregnant, or that she thought her husband cheated on her, or that she felt guilty about something she wasn't positive she'd done.
I would describe this as a bundle of good ideas that could have been better if executed differently. I may read the next book in the series to see if it gets better, but I'm not chomping at the bit to get to it.