Review: All These Perfect Strangers – Aoife Clifford

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I received this free ARC from the author and publisher as a win from a Goodreads Giveaway, which will not be release until August this year, so a big massive thank you for selecting me as one of the winners to receive this book.

Penelope Sheppard has a past, which she is desperate to get away from. To get to a place where nobody knows her and she can start a fresh. Nobody staring at her everyday and knowing and judging her. So starting university, in a new place, where nobody knows her or her past, sounds incredible and is a blessing. But within six months of Pen starting university, three of her new friends are dead and only Pen knows the reason why.

This book is told completely from Penelope Sheppards perspective, or Pen as she prefers. There is so much mystery surrounding this character, with her past, the people she surrounds herself with and even the town and university that she is then situated in. Her character was unreliable as the main narrative of the story, as it was explained that she has an habit of creating and adjusting the story and her past for her own benefit, to tell people, such as Frank. This needed to be told from one persons point of view in order to create the mystery that this book just oozes out. And maybe by using the unreliability of Penelopes character, plus then with the history that she has, it adds to the mystery and it just creates so much more tension, which is so great and builds so much more.

The book doesn’t have a straight continued time line and in does jump back and forth between three specific times in Pens life. There’s now, the present time after everything has happened. After the very first event with Tracey, after the events that occurred at university, where we see Penelope trying to work through everything that has happened. Talking to her therapist Frank, her lawyer Bob and struggling to deal with her mum and her mum new boyfriend Terry has she’s had to move back home. It’s through her sessions with Frank that we discover more about what happens, as he suggests that she that she writes things down to help her to deal with things. But here is where things get tricky for us as readers. Penelope Sheppard has an habit of adjusting the truth of her past, so we don’t really know if what she is saying, and if what we are reading is actually reliable. We then get to see the events that occurred at university and the events that occurred before then, all of which are intertwined, so we have to wait and read until the end to discover what happens. To discover the mystery and truth behind it all.

There is so much mystery in this book, as I would say, it is a murder mystery. You have people at the university who are getting murdered by somebody known solely as the ‘Screwdriver Killer’ and there are so many choices of characters that that could be. I found myself trying to guess throughout it all, constantly changing my mind as new information was provided. Even though the time line kept jumping back and fore to the present time, the mystery was still there, which shows how great the writing was to still be able to do that! It was great as I didn’t genuinely didn’t know who I could trust, if anyone, and that even including the main character herself because again, her whole narrative could have been a lie, plus I hadn’t discovered the truth about the first event, at the time. I questioned ever character! I believed every character could be the killer at one point, even the nicest of people, that’s how paranoid I had become while reading it. It was brilliant.

I didn’t know how to feel about the ending because I didn’t know how I finally felt towards Penelope. There were questions left unanswered and inconclusive, some of which I believe we’re left unanswered because I genuinely believe that she refused to let herself answer them for herself. This then adds to her Pens unreliability as a narrator, which is then also a clever character development which the author has stuck to throughout, but it just sucks when reading. I loved that there was something mentioned at the end about another character, Michael, who wrote everything down, which may be an hint of this book being told or written from Michaels perspective, which would be very interesting to read. But it could be nothing and was just the part that was needed for the conclusion towards the end for this book.

I did enjoy this book and I loved the mystery that I experience throughout it all, and it’s for that, that I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars! I defiantly recommend this book, especially if you like a good murder mystery. Add it to your wishlist because it doesn’t come out until August 2016. Brilliant.

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