Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Publication Date: 27 December 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
An Anonymous Girl is the tense new psychological thriller by the daunting team of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, authors of The Wife Between Us which we featured for book club this time last year.
The cover of the book is an eye-catching red and the whole feel of the cover is reminiscent of their previous book.
Jessica Farris is a troubled young adult in New York struggling to make a living as a makeup artist. She was working in theatre but for reasons of her own she’s decided to take a sabbatical and get back to the grassroots of makeup artistry; working for a mobile beauty company by appointment. She comes across information about a lucrative psychology study that could help her financial woes in the short term. It sounds like a simple survey and who wouldn’t answer a couple of questions to pick up a couple of hundred bucks.
Jessica manages to slide into the morality study run by the mysterious Dr Shields and the questions start out relatively harmless. It isn’t long before the questions become more probing and Jess starts to feel like Dr Shields is a lot deeper in her mind than she had ever planned. Jess is invited to intensify her involvement in the study, for a lot bigger financial reward, and sees herself involved in real life experiments and scenarios.
Hendricks and Pekkanen rapidly draw us in to a world of paranoia where the lines between social experiment and real life are blurred. The threads are masterfully woven so we are never quite sure who to trust, or what the true motivations are.
An Anonymous Girl is terrifying for so many reasons; not least because of the trust that is placed in a therapist to do the right thing by clients, and how easily that balance of power can be abused.
The story is set in New York in the lead up to Christmas, a time of year that would make it easy to isolate a vulnerable person. Many people head away for the holidays and in a season filled with parties and revelry it can be easy to feel lonely.
Dr Shields is a psychologist studying morality but the further we travelled into the narrative the less sure I was about where the study ended and Dr Shields own personal agenda began.
Jessica is quite easy to manipulate with money as a motivator, not because she’s materialistic but because she spends a lot helping out her family. Jessica may soon learn that you can’t put a price on peace of mind.
I found that there were parts of An Anonymous Girl that were a little predictable, but there were also twists that came from nowhere and I was left never quite sure what was really going on.
Hendricks and Pekkanen have created enigmatic characters who are quite real and solidly written, though at the same time there is a lot we don’t find out about them, there are things that need to be unfolded slowly.
An Anonymous Girl is dark and gritty, it gets to the heart of paranoia, fidelity and morality. The authors explore the idea that we all have a price, and how we can be manipulated once that is known.
The narrative is told from alternating first person perspectives by both Jessica and Dr Shields. We are taken into the depths of both their minds, we learn a lot about their thinking but not their motivation. We got to know them well while still not really knowing them at all.
This is the second book by the team of Hendricks and Pekkanen, and I have really enjoyed both. I will definitely be watching for their collaborations in the future.
An Anonymous Girl is available now through Pan MacMillan, Booktopia, Angus & Robertson and where all good books are sold.