Book Review: The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding
I think the most interesting thing about the characters in this book is that they could be anybody. Your family. Your neighbours. Your best friends. Yes, they’ve got secrets, but they are the kind of ‘normal’ secrets anyone could have - the mother has a touch of kleptomania, the daughter is raking in cash on the side as a cam girl, the son witnessed something shocking at college and is wrestling his conscience, the father got wasted at a bucks party and is now being blackmailed. The thing is that at least one of these secrets has got seriously out of hand. Someone is targeting the family, and it’s escalated quickly from throwing eggs to slashing tires and setting fires. The tension between the family members is ratcheting up tighter and tighter, like a string being tuned… until it finally breaks.
This isn’t your traditional mystery in that there’s no dead body to investigate, but I was nonetheless fascinated. I was a bit puzzled as to why you wouldn’t hire, for example, a private security team to surveil your house properly, rather than relying on cameras which were blatantly ineffective immediately. I’d have dipped into savings and hired someone with a scent dog to be trying to track the offenders, just to start with, but apparently none of the family have ever watched any crime shows because it didn’t seem to occur to them. They were all far too caught up in panicking guiltily about their secret coming out.
I have to admit I never did quite comprehend what the heck Eli was playing at. Tarryn was very relatable, she was clearly doing her cam girl stuff to get the affection and attention she wasn’t getting in real life, and at the end of the book it seemed like she was working through things the best, putting herself on a great upward trajectory for the future. Thomas and Vivian were both too obsessed with appearances and didn’t seem to really get much character growth. Thomas in particular was clueless… who doesn’t go to the police when someone is trying to blackmail them? Especially once he’d realised the photos were faked? Again, utterly illogical.
I was disappointed that the ‘boys will be boys’ attitude referenced several times here was never really pushed back against, except by Tarryn running her mouth a time or two (I told you I liked her best). Eli was kind of spineless (obviously inherited from Thomas). And all of them seemed particularly clueless at moments where the plot required it… calling the police when you’ve finally caught one of the delinquents trashing your home would seem the obvious play, as would asking the police to follow up on the fact that the brat actually named the person who paid him to do so, but following up that thread would have led too quickly to real answers.
The best thing about this was how relatably ordinary everyone was. It really does feel like it all could so easily happen to you or someone you know, but there were times when characters behaved illogically for the sake of stretching out the tension, something I find frustrating. Overall, I enjoyed the read, and I’ll definitely read more by this author in the future. I’ll give it four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.