Desert Isle Keeper
An Anonymous Girl
Authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen have teamed up to create another spellbinding, spine-tingling novel of psychological suspense. An Anonymous Girl is the second book they’ve written together, and I hope there are many more to come.
Jess is a twenty-something makeup artist who is looking for a quick and easy way to make some extra cash. Doing other people’s makeup is something she loves, but the pay isn’t the best, and Jess could use a little something extra. So, when she hears about a study on ethics and morality being conducted by a psychology professor at a nearby college, she decides to check it out. After all, it promises to compensate generously, and she figures there’s no harm in answering a few questions.
Unfortunately for Jess, the study turns out to be far more intense than she was expecting. The initial interview sessions seem pretty standard and the pay is great, but things take a sinister turn when Dr. Shields, the professor in charge of the study, begins arranging outings for Jess. These outings might seem innocent enough, but Jess doesn’t understand why Dr. Shields is telling her what to wear and how to act while she’s out. She considers dropping out of the study, but the promise of a pay increase is something she can’t turn down, so, against her better judgement, she continues to participate.
What follows is one of the creepiest stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading in quite some time. The reader knows almost immediately that Dr. Shields is up to no good, but it takes Jess quite a bit longer to figure this out. This kind of set-up doesn’t always work for me, because I tend to lose patience with the characters since I know more about what’s going on than they do, but here, the authors did a fantastic job of feeding me just enough information to keep me fully engaged at all times without taking away from the impact of the big reveal.
Most of the story is told from Jess’s point of view, but we are treated to some chapters from Dr. Shield’s perspective as well. I found Jess to be a very relatable character, but my favorite portions of the novel were those that allowed me to see into the mind of the villain. Since I read a ton of psychological thrillers, the antagonists can sometimes feel like carbon copies of one another, but that wasn’t the case with Dr. Shields. Her mind is a dark and twisted place, and her motivations were unlike any I’ve come across before.
Jess is definitely the heroine of this story, but she’s not a narrator you can fully trust. Her involvement in the study causes her to become quite paranoid and confused at times, making it difficult to tell what’s real and what is a product of her slowly fragmenting psyche. I loved this aspect of An Anonymous Girl since unreliable narrators are my catnip, but I know it won’t appeal to everyone.
I could go on and on about all the things I loved about this book, but instead, I’ll simply urge you to pick up a copy for yourself as soon as you possibly can. It’s a story that’s guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night, and I doubt you’ll view surveys or medical studies in quite the same way after you reach the end.