The Perfect Couple
In Elin Hilderbrand’s first foray into suspense, the maid of honor is found dead on the morning of the wedding. The bride – who found her – had her bags all packed and was ready to get into a cab when she discovered the body. It’s a Nantucket wedding, so there’s money, secrets, and motives galore, and Ms. Hilderbrand unravels them all. Sometimes referred to as ‘the queen of the summer beach read’, the author continues her tradition of engrossing and well-crafted reads about families who live on the island.
Celeste Otis – from a working class Pennsylvania family – is all set to marry Benji Winbury, the youngest son of the Nantucket Winburys, in a lavish ceremony planned entirely by Benji’s mother, Greer. Celeste is more than happy to let Greer do everything for several reasons. First, she feels completely out of place in Benji’s world, and second, her mother has terminal cancer and the family’s finances have gone entirely to keeping her alive. Celeste feels that allowing Greer to throw the culturally appropriate wedding of the year is the greatest gift she can offer Benji.
Greer, a celebrated suspense author, relishes the task. For her, it is an act of love for Celeste to take this off of her plate, as much as it is a way to ensure the proper way of doing things is preserved. Her husband, Tag, is always happy to be the center of attention, but is not especially attentive to her.
Chief of Police Ed Kapernash does not need a murder investigation on top of the usual summer drama of tourists on Nantucket, and is hoping there is a simpler explanation for the maid of honor’s death. He methodically interviews everyone involved, and it is through those interviews that the story unfolds.
I’m not going to say any more about the plot. That’s generally my policy with suspense reviews anyway, but in this particular story, that’s absolutely all the set-up that you need. Are you intrigued as to why Celeste has her bags packed? Then read on to find out. How did the maid of honor die? Great question – read on to find out. Eeking out any hints beyond that would potentially spoil a rich detail, which I am unwilling to risk.
The book is simultaneously about the couple and their wedding and not about them at all. With a sprawling cast of characters, from both the families and the island, the pacing is tight and balanced. We spend the perfect amount of time with each person before we are swept away to another subplot. It’s never confusing, however, and that is a testament to Ms. Hilderbrand’s deft hand at familial fiction.