Elin Hilderbrand’s newest book, “The Perfect Couple,” is about as good a mystery as it gets. Set mainly in early July of this year, this mystery focuses on the murder of the maid-of-honor of a multi-million-dollar wedding in Nantucket. Being a Nantucket resident herself, Hilderbrand expertly captures the likeness of the place with ease. There is never too much exposition, though descriptions are aplenty. Each character is uniquely characterized and easy to identify.
Flashbacks are frequent, and, despite their disruption of the book, add to the plot and character developments. The changes in point of view, happening every few pages, while somewhat distracting, is essential to the development of the narrative. Each character adds something new that may not have been revealed through a singular point of view. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds providing unique perspectives. It is clear that Hildebrand put a significant amount of thought into creating a relatable cast. The combination of flashbacks and changes in point of view is done surprisingly well. Hilderbrand proves that a linear timeline with a singular narrative isn’t always necessary to a good telling of a story. She writes in such a way the reader feels like the detective, making guesses who the killer might be and what their motivation is. Several suspects would have the motive to kill the unsuspecting maid-of-honor. While there are a couple of red herrings thrown into the mix, the real killer is entirely unexpected. The subplots never distract from the central development of the book. Whether it be the newest mistress or the bride’s mother’s cancer, it all ties back to the plot.
One downside to this book lies with the bride and groom themselves. The groom-to-be, Benji, is far too flawless to be taken seriously. A man from money who is kind-hearted, humble, and great with kids wouldn’t be entirely out of the ordinary if the rest of his family weren’t so flawed themselves. While some family members have a redeeming quality or two, it seems unlikely that Benji is as flawless as is made out to be. Even the bride, who was repeatedly described as the most caring, self-less person her parents had ever known, winds up cheating. Speaking of the bride, Celeste is almost utterly friendless. She never had any friends, even before her mother was diagnosed with cancer. While it isn’t unlikely for Celeste to have trouble making friends, she is so obsessed with her parents it’s annoying. And while her parents are a big part of who she is as a character, it is irksome that even after moving away from home, she was only able to make one friend. Even then, and after falling in love, she would much rather spend time with her parents than anyone else.
Despite the flaws, “The Perfect Couple,” is a book worth reading. It’s easy to see why Erin Hilderbrand is a New York Time’s best-selling author. Any reader will have trouble putting it down. It’s captivating in every sense of the word. I look forward to reading any of Hilderbrand’s upcoming books.