Overall I enjoyed The Good Girl, although at times some of the characters appeared clichéd and one-dimensional. Gabe and Colin are two sides of the same coin, pretty much cut from the same cloth. The story itself centers on the abduction of Mia Dennett – second child of Eve and James Dennett – by lowlife Colin Thatcher, held captive in a wooden cabin not far from the Canadian borders. The narrative is told through the separate POV’s of Eve, Colin and Gabe (the bumbling detective) flitting between the past and present. It’s well paced and very hard to put down.
Life in the cabin made me want to gag. I found myself trying to imagine the stench; Mia and Colin desensitised to their smell; their bodies becoming hairier and matted; only soap and cold water; on the rag in the wilderness – imagine? The evolution of their relationship – from aggressor and victim to lovers under frozen duress – was convincing. Surprisingly, I felt the most sympathy for Colin of all people; a man suckered into a life of crime in order to help his sick mother and put food on the table.
But it’s the dynamic between Mia and her very narcissistic father that’s the real underbelly of the story. Judge James Dennett is a man whose only concern is image and personal advancement to the detriment of his family and the life of his missing daughter. It is his behaviour (would like to have seen more) that motivates Mia’s actions. I have read a number of reviews that say the ending is outlandish and ridiculous (it really makes the reader rethink Mia’s character) BUT I’ve personally experienced the unspoken rules of a narcissistic father who judges and shames, castigates and cuts away, when the expectation(s) of who you are and who you ought to be aren’t met; the pain and rage this inspires; and from this viewpoint, I understand (but don’t condone) why Mia makes a particular choice, one which ironically shows her to be just as manipulative as her old man.
This is a story about what love (or lack of) motivates us to do. The only thing I wished the author hadn’t included was making Dalmar, the criminal overlord, a Somalian, and additionally alluding to the criminal under world as being majority black – I felt uncomfortable with this. (yes, Colin is white, but still). It sent the wrong message about immigrants and poorer communities. This probably wasn’t her intention at all, but unfortunately the negative stereotype came across. Having said that, The Good Girl is a good read, a real page turner and I highly recommend it with a cup of tea and an afternoon stretched out on the sofa. An impressive debut.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy by Mira/Harlequin for review. All opinions are my own.