Title: Perfect Ten
Author: Jacqueline Ward
Published: October 2018
Genre: Crime and Mystery
RRP: $29.99 AUD
I received a copy of Perfect Ten from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
An explosive debut thriller about one woman’s search for revenge – and the dangerous chain of events she sets in motion…
Caroline Atkinson is powerless and angry. She has lost more than most – her marriage, her reputation, even her children. Then one day, she receives an unusual delivery: lost luggage belonging to the very man who is responsible, her estranged husband Jack.
In a leather holdall, Caroline unearths a dark secret, one that finally confirms her worst suspicions. Jack has kept a detailed diary of all his affairs; every name, every meeting, every lie is recorded. He even marks the women out of ten.
Caroline decides it’s time to even the score. She will make this man pay, even if it means risking everything…
This book stressed me out.
In terms of world-building and keeping a reader’s attention this is pretty fantastic, because no matter how tense I felt during the reading of Perfect Ten there was no way I was putting it down.
Which was a weird thing for me, with a book like this, where I actually disliked the main character, Caroline, and her ex-husband (who did, actually, deserve everything he got).
Caroline has lost everything – her husband, her children, her reputation – because Jack (her ex) was shrewd – and vicious – enough to ensure that when she found out he was having affairs throughout their marriage he had a contingency plan that made her look like she was crazy. (Which, as a trope I dislike, but it’s also far too common an occurrence in real life for me to not recognise it’s legitimacy.) After a year apart, Caroline finally has the proof she needs to try and take Jack down a peg, and what follows is a series of events that rapidly begin to spiral out of control as Caroline tries to keep one step ahead of Jack and the police.
As a character, Caroline rubbed me the wrong way, but it’s hard not to admire the lengths she’s willing to go to in order to see her children. When her world falls apart, so does she, and she descends into binge-drinking, drunken one night stands, some petty thieving and an online shopping addiction. She is, for lack of a better term, a total mess. Then she concocts a plan – involving social media – to bring her ex-husband’s affairs to light and to shame not only him, but the women he had the affairs with (which to be honest, is probably the part I had the biggest philosophical problem with).
Told entirely from Caroline’s perspective, the pacing is punchy, the story moves along as she learns new information, which is then woven into the narrative of her past as she pieces everything together. It’s tense and emotional and I could feel Caroline’s rage coming off the pages.
The scariest aspect is, of course, the effect that social media can have. Caroline uses it as a weapon against her ex-husband and it’s terrifyingly effective in ruining someone’s reputation if you’ve got the courage to pull it off. It honestly made me want to go and delete my Facebook page right away.
If you enjoy books like You by Caroline Kepnes, then I’d highly recommend trying Perfect Ten. It’s got that same second-person narrative that really draws the reader in.