All the Wrong Places
Joy Fielding’s work has been hit or miss for me over the past fifteen years or so, but I still get a little bit excited when I learn she’s coming out with something new. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, or maybe I’m still waiting for her to come out with something as fabulous as Whispers and Lies. Either way, I decided to pick up her latest novel, All the Wrong Places, for review. Needless to say, I’m sorry I wasted my time.
Paige used to love her life. She had a job she loved, a long-term relationship that fulfilled her, close friends, and a supportive family. Unfortunately, things crumbled for Paige shortly before the story opens. When we first meet her, she’s living with her mother, looking for a job to replace the one she lost, and pining for the boyfriend her jealous cousin stole from her. She’s in a downward spiral for sure, and desperate to find a way to bring some happiness into her life.
Joan is Paige’s mother, and she’s still mourning the loss of her husband two years before. He was her one true love, and it’s hard for Joan to imagine her life being full and meaningful without him by her side. Still, she knows she has to find a way to go on without him.
Chloe has been Paige’s best friend for the past decade. She’s married to an extremely charismatic but abusive man, and they have two young children. She’s just found out her husband has been cheating on her, and she’s not sure where she wants to go from here. There’s a part of her that knows she should leave him, but she’s not convinced she can manage on her own.
Heather is Paige’s cousin, and the two of them have been rivals since they were children. Everything Paige does, Heather is determined to do, too. She’d love it if she could manage to best Paige every once in a while, but that doesn’t seem very likely. Of course, stealing Paige’s boyfriend made her feel better at first, but she’s now beginning to wonder if he’s really all that much of a catch.
Each of the four women decides to try her hand at online dating. None of them is sure what to expect from the experience, but they all think it’s worth a try. It just might manage to be the answer to all of their prayers. But then, Paige catches the eye of a sadistic killer, a fact that could put them all directly in danger’s path.
I adore books that examine the messy relationships between women, and I’m equally fond of twisty thrillers. Unfortunately, All the Wrong Places failed to deliver on both fronts. The characters, including the villain, feel like simple cut-outs rather than fully fleshed out people. The author has given each of them a defining characteristic, and that’s the only part of their personality the reader ever gets to know. Heather, for example, is the mean girl, and that’s really all I know about her. There’s no depth to any of these people, and I found it really hard to care about what happened to any of them.
I can’t tell you why I disliked this book so much without giving away some key plot points, so please be aware that the rest of this review does contain spoilers. I normally try to avoid ruining things for potential readers, but there’s just no way around it this time.
Nothing about the mystery is the least bit satisfying, and we never learn the identity of the villain, despite spending quite a bit of time in his head. There’s nothing original about him, nothing that sets him apart from the thousands of other serial killers I’ve read about. He’s a product of his dysfunctional childhood, and we’re never allowed to see anything beyond that. He seems to live to kill women, but I never fully understood what motivated him. I expected to have my questions answered by the time I reached the final chapter, but the story ends without addressing who he is, why he does what he does, or what the future holds for him. How can someone write a thriller and then end it without catching the killer?
There’s not a single redeeming feature about All the Wrong Places. The characters annoyed me, the plot dragged on and on, and the mystery turned out to be a total disappointment. I urge readers to pass this one by in favor of something more satisfying.