The Perfect Stranger: A Novel by Megan MirandaThe Perfect Stranger: A Novel by Megan Miranda

The Perfect Stranger: A Novel

byMegan Miranda

Paperback | April 11, 2017

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In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls—a “fiendishly plotted thriller” (Publishers Weekly)—a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?
Title:The Perfect Stranger: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.38 × 5.5 × 1.1 inPublished:April 11, 2017Publisher:Simon & SchusterLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1501166824

ISBN - 13:9781501166822

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another captivating thriller by Megan Mirana! I loved "All The Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda and decided to try this book as well. This book had me guessing what I had read myself. It did an amazing job at keeping the reader wanting more. Lots of suspense that keeps you on your toes. Not my favourite thriller but definitely up there!
Date published: 2017-10-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good read Great plot and vivid characters. A decent storyline and ending.
Date published: 2017-09-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book It was my first time reading a book by Megan Miranda, and I was not disappointed. This book yields some really good, subtle plot twists and leads you in many different directions. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-09-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Story I loved All the Missing Girls and was excited to start this new novel. It has not disappointed - I was a captive reader from the first page. I like how the author only reveals bits and pieces of the past, alluding to past events and their impact of the present. Keeps me reading. Only half way through but cannot put it down. Definitely recommend!
Date published: 2017-08-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Quite As Good As I Was Hoping For I really loved "All the Missing Girls" and was super excited to read this one, but it fell a little short for me. I still enjoyed it, but I didn't find the plot to be as detailed or as interesting and I felt a little underwhelmed by it all.
Date published: 2017-08-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Love! I bought this because I loved her "All The Missing Girls" and I was not disappointed. This one is not as good and twisty, but I still enjoyed it, worth the read if you like mysteries.
Date published: 2017-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Soooo good!!! One of the best thriller books I've ever read!
Date published: 2017-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Perfect Stranger I loved All of the Missing Girls, and this book was just as great.
Date published: 2017-07-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from definitely worth the read I wasn't sure about this one going in but I am quite happy I chose to give it a chance. Very good read and quite suspenful
Date published: 2017-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Taut Psychological Thriller A new author to me, Megan Miranda, has created an intense psychological thriller here. The Perfect Stranger is the first person narrator, Leah Stevens, who reconnects with her friend and former roommate Emmy at a turning point in her life. Leah has royally ruined her career in journalism by refusing to name a source and, in the hope that rumours of a civil suit will disappear, agrees to quit her job on the Boston Post. Looking to reinvent herself, an accidental meeting with Emmy, who is running from a violent ex-fiancé, finds the pair off to a small town in rural Pennsylvania where Leah will teach high school English and Emmy will work part-time night shift at a motel and do some daytime cleaning assignments. Life slowly comes off the rails when first, the basketball coach from the high school (married) tries to put the moves on Leah. Then, she starts to get phone calls late at night with suggestive messages and heavy breathing. A neighbourhood woman — a Leah look alike — is found by the lake with her head bashed in. When Leah realizes she hasn't seen Emmy for several days and none of the sticky messages she's left for her have been picked up, she alerts the police to her disappearance. As Leah tries to piece together information about Emmy for police detective Kyle Donovan, it begins to dawn on her that she hasn't a lot of hard information on her roommate — Emmy has left no paper trail: no name on a lease, no vehicle registration, no participation in the Peace Corps, no credit cards, nothing. Then, Emmy's battered up station wagon is pulled from the lake with her current boyfriend in it — his throat cut. As Leah starts to connect the bits she remembers, the new pieces she's discovering, and the parts she overlooked along the way, she begins to have a new perspective on her relationship with Emmy and who she really is. When Leah looks at it from the police perspective, she realizes it appears as if Emmy is a figment of Leah's own imagination and that she herself is the prime suspect in two murder investigations. She becomes more resourceful and confident as she starts following a vague trail Emmy has left for her and soon realizes how she had been the perfect stranger for Emmy. She learns more about herself, her family, and how her own openness made her incredibly vulnerable in so many ways, and how, despite the terrifying events that have marred her first semester, her fresh start will be even better than she had first hoped. This story is fraught with tension from the very first page and builds slowly and carefully, as the author fills in Leah's personal past and what little she knows of Emmy. It is further complicated by a budding relationship with the handsome, young Detective Donovan, the mysterious attitudes of some of her students, the story of the campus suicides that she's convinced were murders, and the tenuous thread between Emmy and an arson/manslaughter charge the first murder victim had spent 8 years in prison for committing. I'll definitely be reading more of this author.
Date published: 2017-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Exciting Suspenseful page after page.
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from worth a read i immediately needed to read this because of reading "all the missing girls" and this book did not disappoint. its pretty slow paced though which i dont enjoy but the overall concept and characters i enjoyed much more then the missing girls novel. #plumrewards
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from good I enjoyed this book ! but I enjoyed "all the missing girl" a lot more
Date published: 2017-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read A little hard to get into in the beginning, but it got better as I read on.
Date published: 2017-06-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Expected so much more When I read the back of this book, I was very excited to read it. I was very disappointed with it. It was very hard for me to get into. At times I was not sure if Leah was making up this other person. There was quite a bit of boring parts (for me). It was a struggle for me to finish. It was not what I had expected. #indigoemployee
Date published: 2017-06-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A disappointing read After a problem involving a source, journalist Leah Stevens leaves her Boston career behind and moves with her friend Emmy to rural Pennsylvania, where she takes a job as a high school teacher. When a woman's body is discovered and her friend disappears, Leah becomes embroiled in the mystery. The plot of this novel sounds intriguing but I found the story plodding and couldn't wait for it to end!
Date published: 2017-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good Interesting story, good characters, overall worth the read
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Sequel You won't be disappointed with this book.
Date published: 2017-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Perfect Stranger What a ride your about to begin as you turn the first page of this suspenseful book, from the first to almost the last you will wonder what is going on. Your long lost friend shows up just when you need her, and an offer to begin anew, and you accept, but before this book is finished I had to wonder if there was such a friend. Even when we travel in the shoes of Leah Stevens, Journalist turned teacher, and when she reports her roommate missing, there is no one there, or is there. As we find out what brought her to rural Pennsylvania from Boston, and all that happened there, and now what, no record exists, no fingerprint trail, what is going on, and just when you think you know the answers, don’t be to sure. I loved that there is a bit of romance for this tormented soul, but even this you have to wonder if it is really real. A don’t miss journey that once you crack the first page your hooked on finding the answers, full of surprises. I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Simon and Schuster, and was not required to give a positive review
Date published: 2017-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from SO GOOD This was my first read by Megan Miranda, but will certainly not be my last! 'The Perfect Stranger' was a well written, thriller seeking novel that grabbed my attention from the very beginning. This story has the perfect amount of thrill and mystery, with just enough of a love connection to keep you wondering. This was one of those books that if you read at night, it'll keep you up way past your bed time!
Date published: 2017-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from spectacular read "The Perfect Stranger" is Megan Miranda's latest book. I had previously loved "All The Missing Girls" and given it high marks for both mystery and character development so I had really high hopes for this new book. I'm so glad I put in to review it as it held up spectacularly to my expectations. "The Perfect Stranger" is already out in print so go pick it up at your local bookstore. You know when you read a book and after you're done you find yourself wondering about what the characters are up to now? It's like they become real people to you and you want to phone them up and ask how they're doing, suggest you go for a cuppa and chat about their lives after such a harrowing experience. Are you still with the boyfriend? Did you finally settle down and find happiness in that little town you moved to? How's it going my friend? Ya, this is one of those books, I just cannot seem to let the characters go. That is such a good thing. I crave these kind of books, the ones that get under your skin and set your world a little on a tilt. Once again, Megan Miranda has written wonderfully knowable characters that she has fleshed out by winding the details into the story. Leah Stevens used to be a journalist, now she's run from her life in Boston to a little town in Pennsylvania to teach high school. Leah will be living with her old friend Emmy Grey but their new start is marred when a woman who looks like Leah is assaulted and Emmy disappears. To protect her new life Leah will have to manipulate the truth and the past to stay above water. The local police are confused and Leah isn't helping by keeping details to herself. She's going to have to trust someone or she may not ever unravel the truth about where Emmy has gone. This mystery works on so many levels. "The Perfect Stranger" sucks you into the labyrinth of Leah's life and the reader is given salient details in a slow, piecemeal fashion which stretches the tension. By the last quarter of the book the reader aches to understand where all the pieces of this puzzle fit together. The ending is so satisfying that I almost sighed in satisfaction, like one does when one finishes the last bite of an especially delicious dessert, good to the last word.
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from five stars!! there she goes again! Megan always manages to keep me on edge when i read her books! liked this one better than all the missing girls. i love the fact that there is SO MUCH going on with the book but it doesn't appear scattered or disorganized. love how twisted the characters are. i will keep an eye out for her future books.
Date published: 2017-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exciting thriller This book keeps you on your toes with the plot twists and captures the readers attention so well
Date published: 2017-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable! I really enjoyed her first book last year so i had really high hopes for this one. I was a little worried by the mixed reviews I'd seen, but i really liked it! Very creepy and fast paced. Some people seem a little disappointed with the ending and I'll admit it could have been a bit better, but didn't ruin anything for me. I will definitely be checking out her next book
Date published: 2017-04-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable I really enjoyed this! I almost like it more than Megan Miranda's previous book, though All the Missing Girls has the edge because of the way it was told in a reverse PoV. I like the way Miranda writes her characters and was interested in reading about Leah and Emmy. I like the way the story unraveled and didn't feel like it was too rushed and I really, really enjoyed the ending, especially the last chapter
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for Me. Last year, I read All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda and couldn’t get into it; I felt confused and mixed up throughout the plot and it didn’t allow me to really get into the story. I wanted this one to feel different; unfortunately, I consistently struggled with this one as well! The novel opens with a teacher, Leah, realizing her roommate (and old friend), Emmy, has gone missing. Simultaneously, a woman winds up brutally beaten by their home and police become involved. Leah finds herself tied to the woman by the lake, her missing roommate and soon becomes a target of police questioning. Leah must try and find out the truth about Emmy while battling her own personal demons. Similar to the last novel I read by Miranda, I felt like way too much was going on. There is the beating by the lake, the missing roommate, a dark past and a romantic relationship with a police officer. I felt as if maybe the author had focused on one of these things, it would have made the plot easier to follow. Instead, I found that all of these things were fighting for the limelight and everything felt jumbled. I also struggled with the pace of this one; it read very slowly. I prefer a faster paced read and this one seemed to steadily climb and then settle. I didn’t find there was a real climax to the story. I couldn't connect with the characters. This one was not for me.
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I liked it! This is a good novel, I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-04-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Underwhelming 3.5 star I was really excited to read The Perfect Stranger, I’m a total psychological thriller addict! Unfortunately, I found myself disappointed. The main character (Leah) is really frustrating and naïve – I did not find myself rooting for her as I usually do the heroine of a book. The romantic connection Leah makes (I won’t say who, as to not include spoilers) is completely predictable. Leah is constantly withholding information and putting herself in danger to try to solve the mystery; nothing new or exciting there. Overall this book was an underwhelming 3.5 Full disclosure: I haven’t read All the Missing Girls but am still open to giving it a chance.
Date published: 2017-03-27

Read from the Book

The Perfect Stranger CHAPTER 1 Character, Emmy called it, the quirks that came with the house: the nonexistent water pressure in the shower; the illogical layout. From the front porch, our house had large sliding glass doors that led directly to the living room and kitchen, a hallway beyond with two bedrooms and a bathroom to share. The main door was at the other end of the hall and faced the woods, like the house had been laid down with the right dimensions but the wrong orientation. Probably the nicest thing I can say about the house was that it’s mine. But even that’s not exactly true. It’s my name on the lease, my food in the refrigerator, my glass cleanser that wipes the pollen residue from the sliding glass doors. The house still belongs to someone else, though. The furniture, too. I didn’t bring much with me when I left my last place. Wasn’t much, once I got down to it, that was mine to take from the one-bedroom in the Prudential Center of Boston. Bar stools that wouldn’t fit under a standard table. Two dressers, a couch, and a bed, which would cost more to move than to replace. Sometimes I wondered if it was just my mother’s words in my head, making me see this place, and my choice to be here, as something less than. Before leaving Boston, I’d tried to spin the story for my mother, slanting this major life change as an active decision, opting to appeal to her sense of charity and decency—both for my benefit and for hers. I once heard her introduce me and my sister to her friends: “Rebecca helps the ones who can be saved, and Leah gives a voice to those who cannot.” So I imagined how she might frame this for her friends: My daughter is taking a sabbatical. To help children in need. If anyone could sell it, she could. I made it seem like my idea to begin with, not that I had latched myself on to someone else’s plan because I had nowhere else to go. Not because the longer I stood still, the more I felt the net closing in. Emmy and I had already sent in our deposit, and I’d been floating through the weeks, imagining this new version of the world waiting for me. But even then, I’d steeled myself for the call. Timed it so I knew my mother would be on her way to her standing coffee date with The Girls. Practiced my narrative, preemptively preparing counterpoints: I quit my job, and I’m leaving Boston. I’m going to teach high school, already have a position lined up. Western Pennsylvania. You know there are whole areas of the country right here in America that are in need, right? No, I won’t be alone. Remember Emmy? My roommate while I was interning after college? She’s coming with me. The first thing my mother said was: “I don’t remember any Emmy.” As if this were the most important fact. But that was how she worked, picking at the details until the foundation finally gave, from nowhere. And yet her method of inquiry was also how we knew we had a secure base, that we weren’t basing our plans on a dream that would inevitably crumble under pressure. I moved the phone to my other shoulder. “I lived with her after college.” A pause, but I could hear her thoughts in the silence: You mean after you didn’t get the job you thought you’d have after graduation, took an unpaid internship instead, and had no place to live? “I thought you were staying with . . . what was her name again? The girl with the red hair? Your roommate from college?” “Paige,” I said, picturing not only her but Aaron, as I always did. “And that was just for a little while.” “I see,” she said slowly. “I’m not asking for your permission, Ma.” Except I kind of was. She knew it. I knew it. “Come home, Leah. Come home and let’s talk about it.” Her guidance had kept my sister and me on a high-achieving track since middle school. She had used her own missteps in life to protect us. She had raised two independently successful daughters. A status I now seemed to be putting in jeopardy. “So, what,” she said, changing the angle of approach, “you just walked in one day and quit?” “Yes,” I said. “And you’re doing this why?” I closed my eyes and imagined for a moment that we were different people who could say things like Because I’m in trouble, so much trouble, before straightening my spine and giving her my speech. “Because I want to make a difference. Not just take facts and report them. I’m not doing anything at the paper but stroking my own ego. There’s a shortage of teachers, Mom. I could really make an impact.” “Yes, but in western Pennsylvania?” The way she said it told me everything I needed to know. When Emmy suggested it, western Pennsylvania seemed like a different version of the world I knew, with a different version of myself—which, at the time, was exactly what I needed. But my mother’s world was in the shape of a horseshoe. It stretched from New York City to Boston, swooping up all of Massachusetts inside the arch (but bypassing Connecticut entirely). She was the epicenter in western Massachusetts, and she’d successfully sent a daughter to the edge of each arch, and the world was right and complete. Any place else, in contrast, would be seen as a varying degree of failure. My family was really only one generation out from a life that looked like this: a rental house with shitty plumbing, a roommate out of necessity, a town with a forgettable name, a job but no career. When my father left us, I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate the impact. But I knew there existed a time when we were unprepared and at the whim of the generosity of those around us. Those were the limbo years—the ones she never talked about, a time she now pretends never existed. To her, this probably sounded a lot like sliding backward. “Great teachers are needed everywhere,” I said. She paused, then seemed to concede with a slow and drawn-out “Yes.” I hung up, vindicated, then felt the twinge. She was not conceding. Great teachers are needed everywhere, yes, but you are not that. She didn’t mean it as an insult, exactly. My sister and I were both valedictorians, both National Merit Scholars, both early admissions to the college of our respective choice. It wasn’t unreasonable that she would question this decision—especially coming out of thin air. I quit, I had told her. This was not a lie, but a technicality—the truth being that it was the safest option, for both the paper and me. The truth was, I had no job in the only thing I’d trained in, no foreseeable one, and no chance of one. The truth was I was glad she had given me the blandest name, the type of name I’d hated growing up. A girl who could blend in and never stand out. A name in a roster anywhere. EMMY’S CAR STILL WASN’T back when I was ready to leave for school. This was not too unusual. She worked the night shift, and she’d been seeing some guy named Jim—who sounded, on the phone, like he had smoke perpetually coating his lungs. I thought he wasn’t nearly good enough for Emmy; that she was sliding backward in some intangible way, like me. But I cut her some slack because I understood how it could be out here, how the calm could instead feel like an absence—and that sometimes you just wanted someone to see you. Other than weekends, we could miss each other for days at a time. But it was Thursday, and I needed to pay the rent. She usually left me money on the table, underneath the painted stone garden gnome that she’d found and used as a centerpiece. I lifted the gnome by his red hat just to double-check, revealing nothing but a few stray crumbs. Her lateness on the rent was also not too unusual. I left her a sticky note beside the corded phone, our designated spot. I wrote RENT DUE in large print, stuck it on the wood-paneled wall. She’d taken all the other notes from earlier in the week—the SEE ELECTRIC BILL, the MICROWAVE BROKEN, the MICROWAVE FIXED. I opened the sliding doors, hit the lights at the entrance, rummaged in my bag for my car keys—and realized I’d forgotten my cell. A gust of wind came in through the door as I turned around, and I watched the yellow slip of paper—RENT DUE—flutter down and slip behind the wood stand where we stacked the mail. I crouched down and saw the accumulated mess underneath. A pile of sticky notes. CALL JIM right side up but half covered by another square. A few others, facedown. Not taken by Emmy after all but lost between the wall and the furniture during the passing weeks. Emmy didn’t have a cell because her old one was still with her ex, on his phone plan, and she didn’t want an easy way for him to trace her. The idea of not owning a cell phone left me feeling almost naked, but she said it was nice not to be at anyone’s beck and call. It had seemed so Emmy at the time—quirky and endearing—but now seemed both irrational and selfish. I left the notes on the kitchen table instead. Propped them up against the garden gnome. Tried to think of how many days it had been since I’d last seen her. I added another note: CALL ME. Decided to throw out the rest, so it wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for THE PERFECT STRANGER "YA author Miranda, who moved into the adult market with All the Missing Girls, proves she isn’t a one-hit wonder with this exciting thriller. Its twisty tale with many layers—a little romance, great writing, and an awesome story line—will keep psychological suspense fans turning the pages." —Library Journal "Solid plot... an entertaining read." —Kirkus Reviews Praise for ALL THE MISSING GIRLS ***A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*** A New York Times Book Review "Editors' Choice" "This thriller’s all of your fav page-turners (think: Luckiest Girl Alive, The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl) rolled into one." —theSkimm "Both [Gillian] Flynn’s and Miranda’s main characters also reclaim the right of female characters to be more than victim or femme fatale… All the Missing Girls is set to become one of the best books of 2016." —Los Angeles Review of Books "Extremely interesting…a novel that will probably be called Hitchcockian." —The New York Times Book Review "Are you paying attention? You'll need to be; this thriller will test your brain with its reverse chronological structure, and it's a page-turner to boot." —ELLE "Intricately plotted…Ms. Miranda brings heightened suspense and a twist to this familiar scenario by telling the story, which unfolds over 15 days, in reverse chronological order." —The New York Times    "Fast-paced and frightening, All the Missing Girls will teach you why it's dangerous to go into the woods alone at night." —Refinery29 "All the Missing Girls is the archetypal murder mystery, the kind it seems like everyone has been hungry for since Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins's Girl on a Train." —Cosmopolitan.com "A new spin on a classic "missing person" thriller, All the Missing Girls is the perfect read for thriller fans." —Bustle.com "A twisty, compulsive read--I loved it." —Ruth Ware, author of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 "Fiendishly plotted..." —Publishers Weekly, starred review "Darkly nostalgic....Miranda takes a risk by telling the story backward, but it pays off with an undroppable thriller, plenty of romantic suspense, and a fresh take on the decades-old teenage-murder theme." —Booklist