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Her Perfect Family by Teresa Driscoll

The novel begins by introducing you to Gemma, who at first instance appears to be your average student, faced with the familiar horrifying realisation, at the eleventh hour, that her graduation outfit is all wrong. Suddenly, Gemma receives an eerie message stating He is not who he says he is…, paving the way for the sinister tone that remains throughout the novel. In a twist of events, and after a change of outfit, Gemma is shot in the midst of her graduation ceremony. With Gemma then in a coma, what follows is a complex whodunit with a list of suspects that continues to grow the further you read.

Her Perfect Family by Teresa Driscoll

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Holly Lewtas
Reviewed by Holly Lewtas
Summary: A gripping psychological thriller told from the shifting perspectives of several characters. You will be left guessing until the very end.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 331 Date: November 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1542028752

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"Her Perfect Family" is told via the perspectives of various characters, Gemma herself, Gemma's parents, as well as the private inspector, Matthew, with brief interludes from an unknown source. Not only this, but the perspectives shift between the past and present. Some may argue that the shifting narratives are confusing, but I wholly disagree. The narratives provide a much-needed access point to allow the reader to delve into the back stories of each of the characters, and their thoughts and feelings as the plot progresses. Each character shines a different light on the mystery surrounding Gemma's shooting, with Gemma providing the victim's perspective, Gemma's mother portraying the grieving parent, and both contrasting against the more professional stance of the private investigator. The incorporation of the varying timeline does not lessen the pace, instead taking you down paths that draw you closer to the shooter, or more accurately who appears to be the shooter.

Teresa Driscoll has crafted her writing to near perfection. Thrillers can often pose problems when it comes to over-descriptive language and unnecessary detail, yet my attention did not drop throughout my time reading. Writers run the risk of falling into the mistake of using complicated and flowery language in an attempt to draw the reader in, which has the opposite effect of creating confusion. Driscoll does not do this, ensuring her sentences flow together, aiding the reader in keeping up with the novel's pace.

The plot alone is incredible. Whilst reading I would get a sense of accomplishment as I thought I had guessed who the shooter was, and, crucially, why they did it. But within pages I soon discovered I was wrong, as a character or fact was introduced which opened up a realm of new possibilities. I found myself coming up with the most outlandish theories, but, not once did I guess correctly. Instead of viewing this with frustration and embarrassment, it is a credit to the mind and imagination of Driscoll.

To put it simply, "Her Perfect Family" is an asset to the thriller genre. Driscoll's years of experience as a journalist and presenter have no doubt heavily impacted upon her ability not just as a writer but as a storyteller. I look forward to reading what Driscoll comes up with next.

For another psychological thriller that is equally as engrossing, I would recommend When The Devil Holds The Candle by Karin Fossum.

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