Thanks to NetGalley and Graydon House for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: “I glance at my wife as she climbs in the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I promised her…and more…”
Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys, and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.
But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to rise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?
Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.
Best Day Ever is a dark, creepy and twisted psychological suspense novel that literally made my skin crawl. I just finished it after being glued to its pages for the last three hours, and now I can’t go to sleep!
What makes this story work is that except for the epilogue, it’s told from the first person POV of the antagonist, Paul Strom. From the first page, you can tell there’s something seriously off about this guy. A couple of chapters in, and it’s obvious he’s a narcissistic psychopath. Even more disturbing is that Paul is basically telling the story to the reader. I felt like he was sitting across from me in real life having a conversation with me. I swear, by the end of the book I wanted to scrub out my brain!
I have to be honest and say there were a few moments where the pace slowed down a bit, mainly because Paul has a tendency to divert from the main storyline into these inner monologues with himself. But when this happens, they don’t last long thankfully. In the beginning, Paul is just thoroughly dislikable, but bit by bit he reveals more about himself and the preceding events that have led up to this momentous day, until you find out what a monster he truly is.
The plot itself is more a slow-burning suspense until about the last 50 pages, which is where most of the action takes place. I don’t say this as a criticism though. All I can think of as an analogy is of a spider/the author, weaving a web and trapping a fly/the reader. I can’t convey how seriously disturbing this is! And it’s made more so by the banal normality that outwardly surrounds Paul and his wife, Mia. She’s also an interesting case study as at first she seems like a Stepford wife, but before long shows there’s something lurking behind her polished veneer.
Despite Paul’s insistence to himself and Mia that, this is going to be the “best day ever”, things methodically begin to unravel until you start wondering for which one this will be true. While there were some things that were predictable, I found myself caught off guard by others, which kept me at the edge of my seat. The ending ties everything up, and while I’ve read other reviews that complained about the epilogue, which switches to someone else’s POV, I actually thought it was the perfect way to end things.
In the end, Best Day Ever, despite not being action packed, has plenty of thrills and chills which will keep readers mesmerized until the very last page. While this works as a standalone, I’ve heard rumors there may be a sequel, which if that’s the case, I’ll definitely be picking it up. I highly recommend this to fans of slow burning suspense with sketchy narrators. It’s definitely going on my top ten list of most memorable reads of 2017!