BOOK CLUB: An Anonymous Girl

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Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
ISBN: 9781529010725
RRP: $29.99
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.

Thanks to Pan MacMillan 10 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading and reviewing An Anonymous Girl so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

An Anonymous Girl is available now through Pan MacMillan, Booktopia, Angus & Robertson and where all good books are sold.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: An Anonymous Girl

  1. thank you for the opportunity to read An Anonymous Girl. I absolutely loved this book. I had previously read The Wife Between Us and this novel certainly supersedes that. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a page turning thriller.

  2. If you love a great cat and mouse thriller, only pick up this book if you have time to devote to it as once you start it’s a tough one to put down. With its twists and turns, it certainly is an addictive read!
    Jessica is a 28 year old make up artist residing on her own in New York. After over hearing a conversation, she manages to weasel her way into a psychology study. Thinking that she will be answering a few questions anonymously under the clinical name of Subject 52 regarding morality and ethics, Jess expects to claim her generous pay check and go on her way. She could not be further from the truth.
    Dr Lydia Shields is the psychiatrist conducting the study. She is elegantly presented, methodical in her approach, intelligent and obsessive. She chooses to focus solely on Subject 52 manipulating Jess to get the information she is after. Dr Shield’s obsession with Jess grows stronger as the story progresses leaving the reader feeling Jess is under her spell. Woven into the story, we are introduced to many other characters along the way including: Dr Thomas Shields – also a psychiatrist and the husband and love of Lydia’s life, April Voss, a former subject of Dr Lydia Shield’s; Noah, a love interest of Jessica and Ben, Dr Lydia’s research assistant.
    Hendricks and Pekkanen are sensational as co-authors. They brilliantly bottle up magic with their writing and sprinkle it over every single page of their novel. This is a highly suspenseful book full of mind games and manipulation. Boundaries are pushed with clever twists entwined. If you enjoy dark psychological thrillers, then look no further.

  3. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to review An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. This is the first novel of theirs I have read.

    An Anonymous Girl is a psychological suspenseful novel. Jessica Farris is a twenty eight year old make up artist who signs up for a psychology study which is conducted by Dr. Shields. Jessica thinks it is easy money to answer some question, get paid and leave.

    What Jessica didn’t expect is that the questions would be so invasive to the point where Jessica believes she is being controlled.

    I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a great suspense nove.

  4. OMG!! This book was out standing, I was wondering where it was going then when I thought I had it figured more twists got put in, I never seen the ending coming, I would re-read this book and I hardly ever re-read a book, please if you suspenseful, thriller this book has it all love, honesty, secrets, power. This book really blew me away I had trouble putting it down because I just needed to know what was found the next corner Jess really is full of surprises.

  5. Thanks to Pan MacMillan and Beauty and Lace for introducing me to a whole new genre, and a brilliant collaboration by two fabulous authors, whose previous book I had not read.

    Wow – where to start ‘An Anonymous Girl’ is such a thought-provoking novel, it was very clear to me, that either one or both authors had studied psychology, and the inner workings and thought processes of morality and ethics. I enjoyed flipping between the two main character perspectives, and I really loved both their complex backstories, each involving a deeply troubled past.

    The deception and lies start very early in the story, and Jessica unquestionably takes on each new assignment, involving an increased risk level, and quiet often not even fully understanding the significance or where the task fits into the actual study. The Doctor’s generosity and the lure of the hand-written cheque upon completion of each task keeps Jess coming back for more.

    Set in chilly New York city in the months leading up to Christmas, culminating in a nail-biting finish, that leaves you guessing till the last couple of pages.

    The Greer and Sarah duo have hit the jackpot, I cannot wait to see what their next book brings, and I would be first in line if the ‘An Anonymous Girl’ was made into a movie.

  6. ‘An Anonymous Girl’ is about makeup artist Jess, who is living in New York city & trying to scrape together enough money for rent/bills and to help her family out with medical bills for her disabled sister Becky.

    When an opportunity arises for Jess to partake in a morality & ethics study, with a generous payment, it seems too good to pass up.

    The Doctor running the study, Dr Shields, takes a keen interest in Jess, asking her to do more and more invasive and involved tests, leaving Jess questioning her own judgement, ethics and even sanity.

    This book was a fantastic thriller, gripping, edgy and leaving me wanting to keep turning the pages.

    I found myself questioning my own morality, along with Jess, and wondering how I would react in the different situations.

    Also, it kept me guessing right up until the end!

    A great read, highly recommended.

  7. What If you signed up to be part of a psychological study, but get more then you bargained for?
    It’s best to go into this without knowing much about the plot.
    It had a lot of hype and its decently hard to live up to that, I enjoyed this but didnt love it. Its narrative alternated between doctor and patient and is a slow burning read. It is suspenseful and throws out a lot of moral dilemmas. If you go into it blind without high expectations I think you will enjoy it

  8. Thankyou so much to Beauty & Lace for allowing me to take part in the read & review of ‘An Anonymous Girl’ By Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

    Wow, wow, wow…….when I read the excerpt about this book, my first reaction was ‘Yes’….it was a genre I can’t get enough of, Thriller/Suspense. The deep, twisted, actions that ride on the coattails of any great psychological thriller can be found as you turn the pages of An Anonymous Girl.

    Jess, is a twenty-eight year old makeup artist, living in New York and wanting to earn some extra cash. When along comes the perfect opportunity….a paid study, that a client of hers was booked in for but can no longer attend, Jess makes the decision to take her client’s place…..a decision that will change Jess’s life.
    Meet Dr Shield’s, a psychiatrist, delving into the murky subject of morality and ethics. Jess is accepted into the study and finds she’s able to share more information than usual about herself and her past, answering questions easily and truthfully. Dr Shield’s is impressed by Jess’s openness and approaches her about expanding the study, meaning much more time spent in study plus extra money too. Here is where the mind games begin and the manipulation of Jess breathes life. The story is a page-turner, with twist after twist, and introduces some of the creepiest characters that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Obsession, betrayal, secrets and thrills galore pepper this storyline along with well thought out characters. The words flowed and were so easy to read.

    I have read a Sarah Pekkanen book before and enjoyed it, but I’ve not read the first collaboration with the two authors; Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks. After reading this I am inclined to grab ‘The Wife Between Us’ and give it a go.
    I’m lucky I’m in the review team for this title, but I encourage everyone that reads these reviews and is a tad interested, to grab a copy, you’ll thank me for it!

  9. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review An Anonymous Girl, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. I greatly enjoy reading psychological thrillers and this one certainly did not disappoint!

    Jessica, the “anonymous girl” of the title, is a young woman who manages to talk her way into a psychological study focusing on morality and run by Dr Lydia Shields. Jessica initially sees the study as an easy way to make money, but, as the story progresses, it becomes apparent to her that all is not as it seems, as she finds herself caught in a web from which there may be no escape.

    An Anonymous Girl is a captivating page-turner from start to finish. The story is told from two different points of view – that of Jessica and that of Dr Shields -, effectively building the tension and the sense of menace that permeate the book. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who is seeking a well-written psychological thriller that, in my opinion, stands out within this popular genre.

  10. An anonymous girl is an absolute page turner! It was such a pleasure to review this book, I found it very hard to put down!

    This thriller is sure to keep you guessing right until the end!! There were moments where it felt a *little* bit predictable however this book is very well written and there are a lot of twists and turns that you certainly wouldn’t expect!

    A great read for anyone who likes a bit of suspense and a psychological thriller. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Pan MacMillan for the opportunity to review this book!

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