Never Smile At Strangers
by Jennifer Jaynes
When nineteen-year-old Tiffany Perron vanishes without a trace, the residents of rural Grand Trespass, Louisiana, launch a desperate search to find her. But few clues are unearthed, and before long another young woman disappears.
As locals continue to vanish, residents begin to discover that they might not know those closest to them as well as they had thought. Lies and insecurities quickly surface, leading everyone to question one another…and their involvement in the disappearances.
Meanwhile, an unstable, twisted killer is hiding quietly in their midst. Ever since his mother’s murder four years earlier, he’s been forced to raise his disturbed teenage sister. He’s terrified of her—and of women in general—and his world revolves around his fear of and obsession over them.
In this USA Today bestselling thriller, debut novelist Jennifer Jaynes delivers a psychologically riveting page-turner that is packed with surprises and will have readers guessing to the very last page.
This is a story about a missing girl, Tiffany,and how her disappearance affects the other residents of her home town. Although this is a crime thriller with a serial killer on the loose, it is not a straightforward police procedural. In fact the detective, although he is referred to throughout the book, has very little to do with the crime or the solution.
The story belongs to four characters: Haley, Tiffany’s best friend and the only one who truly believes that Tiffany hasn’t just run away; Erica, a disaffected young girl whose mother left for New York abandoning the family; Rachel, whose husband was having an affair with Tiffany; and lastly the killer, whose disturbed psyche is revealed in chapters throughout the book.
The book is set in Grand Trespass, Louisiana and Jennifer Jaynes does a brilliant job of describing life in small-town America. There is a fantastic sense of place, and the characters with their secrets, lies and neuroses are compelling. Showing the killer’s background in a series of POV chapters is brilliant. You find not really a monster but an extremely flawed human being, which means you have to think hard about your feelings.
If I have a complaint it is that there was no spark in the reveal of the killer. It needed a shock and awe moment, perhaps the detective could have been better employed.
This is a solid debut novel, really enjoyable. I guessed the killer quite early on but it certainly didn’t spoil the book for me as I’ve been wrong more times than I care to mention. 🙂
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a crime thriller with great characters. I am looking forward to Jennifer Jaynes’ next novel.