#ATBR2021 – The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews

THE PERFECT DAUGHTER – D.J. Palmer (Released April 20th, 2021)

Here’s the synopsis:

The Perfect Daughter is a thriller that explores the truth or lies behind a teenage girl’s multiple personality disorder, from D.J. Palmer, the author of The New Husband.

Grace never dreamt she’d visit her teenaged daughter Penny in the locked ward of a decaying state psychiatric hospital, charged with the murder of a stranger. There was not much question of her daughter’s guilt. Police had her fingerprints on the murder weapon and the victim’s blood on her body and clothes. But they didn’t have a motive.

Grace blames herself, because that’s what mothers do—they look at their choices and wonder, what if? But hindsight offers little more than the chance for regret.

None of this was conceivable the day Penny came into her life. Then, it seemed like a miracle. Penny was found abandoned, with a mysterious past, and it felt like fate brought Penny to her, and her husband Arthur. But as she grew, Penny’s actions grew more disturbing, and different “personalities” emerged.

Arthur and Grace took Penny to different psychiatrists, many of whom believed she was putting on a show to help manage her trauma. But Grace didn’t buy it. The personas were too real, too consistent. It had to be a severe multiple personality disorder. One determined psychiatrist, Dr. Mitch McHugh, helped discover someone new inside Penny—a young girl named Abigail. Is this the nameless girl who was abandoned in the park years ago? Mitch thinks Abigail is the key to Penny’s past and to the murder. But as Grace and Mitch dig deeper, they uncover dark and shocking secrets that put all their lives in grave danger

Chandra’s Thoughts: 3/5 stars

I can’t remember what it was when I was a kid that got me fascinated with DID/MPD (Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder).  I deep dived into this (as much as I could because the internet wasn’t what it is now back then – yes I’m aging myself….) and there was so much controversy on this subject – still is I *think*.  So when I started reading this and saw the main topic was about a girl with possible DID… I was instantly hooked.  

This starts off very strong – we meet Penny, who may or may not have killed someone.. and if she actually did, was it really her… or one of her alters (Chloe, Ruby, Eve)?  I think the author did an amazing job with the back and forth in characters/personalities.  My heart went out to her… and to her family who had adopted her years ago.  As the chapters went on, I did unfortunately feel my attention start to wane a bit.  While I did feel it was a bit repetitive at times, it kind of needed to be considering the personalities within Penny and how they reacted individually to certain moments… but it did also stretch the story at times.  I certainly didn’t see the ending coming so the reveal was definitely a surprise.  And to be honest, I’m not really sure how I feel about it.  I like that it kinda came out of left field.. but I also groaned a little bit because whyyyyyyyy.  I also felt the epilogue was unnecessary – I mean, I’m glad we got to see that part tied up a little bit but it felt off from the rest of it since it relates more to a side story.  Just my preference.

Personally, I did have a lot of fun with this read.  It’s a subject matter that I’m interested in and a mix of psychological/domestic thrillery goodness that I enjoy.  My second book by this author and I have a third on my shelf that I’m looking forward to.  Definitely an author I will continue to read.  While the first two books have been middle of the road for me, there’s just something compelling about this author that I can’t stay away from.

My Thoughts: 3/5 stars

This is my third outing with DJ Palmer’s books and I’ve definitely enjoyed them all so far. THE PERFECT DAUGHTER instantly had me intrigued because it deals with DID/MPD (Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder). I will devour anything pertaining to this topic, nonfiction and fiction alike, and I feel like that’s the case for a lot of readers in general. The beginning of the book is solid and instantly hooks you – a young girl is the focus of a murder investigation and all evidence points to her, but was it really her? Or is it possible that one of Penny’s alters is at fault?

My first question is how could someone go about trying to prove that it was, in fact, one of Penny’s alters? What is the procedure to see if it was the core personality or one of the alters? This topic just gets my mind racing and I couldn’t wait to see everything unfold. I think Palmer did a good job going back and forth between Penny and the alters (Chloe, Ruby, and Eve) and really captured how difficult it can be to distinguish between them. I really felt like the pacing started to lose me around the halfway point. Things started to feel a little repetitive and slow in comparison to the strong start. The ending definitely shocked me, and that’s saying something in the thriller/suspense genre. Don’t get me started on the epilogue – I feel like we didn’t really need it and I know I’m not the only one based on some other reviews I’ve seen. I think if it wasn’t involving a smaller plot point then it wouldn’t have bugged me as much.

Overall, I really did enjoy this one. Despite the pacing taking me out of it for a little bit I still liked seeing Penny’s story unfold. I think that if DID/MPD interests you, then you should give this one a try. I’ll continue to pick up what DJ Palmer releases and I’m curious to see what we’ll get next!

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