Within six months of Pen Sheppard starting university, three of her new friends are dead. Only Pen knows the reason why.
College life had seemed like a wonderland of sex, drugs and maybe even love. The perfect place to run away from your past and reinvent yourself. But Pen never can run far enough and when friendships are betrayed, her secrets are revealed. The consequences are deadly.
Aoife writes: ‘This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths, but perhaps all of them were murders. It’s a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let’s just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways.’
As a debut novel, All These Perfect Strangers had an unexpected level of complexity to the writing, which I enjoyed. This is the first novel I’ve read using the “unreliable narrator” point of view and I was fascinated by the extra dimension this approach added to the characters and the storyline. I loved wondering if there was more to what I was being told.
The author structured the storytelling to include both what happened in the past and what was taking place in the present. The use of a diary as a means of conveying the story allowed the main character, Pen Shepherd, to choose what she told her psychiatrist and, therefore, what she told me as the reader. Again, the unreliable narrator kept me wondering how much was true and what else I needed to know.
There were some interesting twists along the way with regards to Pen’s stay at the university, and some of the characters certainly contributed to their own fate.
I was initially attracted to this story by two lines in the description. I suggest they encapsulate the main theme of this story.
“You don’t have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you.”
“You don’t have to be a murderer to be guilty.”
If you like an intricate storyline with interesting twists you should put All These Perfect Strangers on your To Be Read list.