Girl Unknown by critically acclaimed author Karen Perry is a powerful novel that “Explores emotional danger with relentless, surgical accuracy.”
—Tana French, New York Times bestselling author of The Trespasser and In the Woods
David and Caroline Connolly are swimming successfully through their marriage’s middle years—raising two children; overseeing care for David’s ailing mother; leaning into their careers, both at David’s university teaching job, where he’s up for an important promotion, and at the ad agency where Caroline has recently returned to work after years away while the children were little. The recent stresses of home renovation and of a brief romantic betrayal (Caroline’s) are behind them. The Connollys know and care for each other deeply.
Then one early fall afternoon, a student of sublime, waiflike beauty appears in David’s university office and says, “I think you might be my father.” And the fact of a youthful passion that David had tried to forget comes rushing back. In the person of this intriguing young woman, the Connollys may have a chance to expand who they are and how much they can love, or they may be making themselves vulnerable to menace. They face either an opportunity or a threat—but which is which? What happens when their hard-won family happiness meets a hard-luck beautiful girl?
Authors Karen Gillece and Paul Perry again combine to form Perry (The Innocent) in this unbalanced psychological thriller. College professor David Connolly's life is forever changed when first-year student Zoe Harte steps into his office and claims that he is her father. David is already stressed about his ailing mother, marital problems, and trying to advance at his job, and Zoe's revelation sends him into a tailspin. But David's wife Caroline believes Zoe has ulterior motives and sets out to prove that she isn't his child. Can Caroline convince David that Zoe is not all she appears to be in time to save her family, or will she find that Zoe is telling the truth? While this dark tale is full of twists, the promise of the setup never reaches its full potential. Despite the fact that the flow of alternating sections between David and Caroline runs smoothly, David and Caroline's children although they are impacted greatly by Zoe's claims end up overlooked in the grand scheme of the story. Certain plot points also stretch plausibility, particularly in the buildup to the finale. Perry's unwieldy thriller raises more questions than it answers about the underdeveloped Connolly family.