Some novels take a while to hook readers while others are fascinating from the beginning. “The Golden Couple” by bestselling authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen grips us immediately through the clever narrative of the two women who are the main characters. But, you might respond, the title is about a couple, a seemingly perfect “golden” couple. While ostensibly the story is about a perfect couple whose marriage is in crisis, the true main characters are the wife and their therapist. For help, they seek the counseling of Avery, who is no longer a licensed therapist due to her quite unconventional methods. Avery is definitely an important part of this story, and it’s her first person narrative that provides much of the information we need in order to figure out what is going on.
The other main character is Marissa, who is married to Matthew, and who cheated on him. The guilt has weighed on her, and she needs to tell him about her infidelity and try to repair their broken marriage. She is hoping that Avery will be the therapist who can accomplish that goal. Avery’s first thought, upon seeing the handsome, obviously wealthy couple walk through her front door, is that they appear to be a “golden couple,” two people with everything the world has to offer. But Avery also knows that appearances are deceiving, and that’s an important concept in this twisty tale.
Avery has her own problems, and we soon see the reason she has a security system and double locks on her doors. And while she is using her ten-step method to help Marissa and Matthew with their marriage, she is also doing that which cost her her therapists license—using extremely unorthodox methods to look deeper into the lives of Marissa and Matthew in order to help them. In effect, Avery plays detective with her patients and delves into their lives outside of her home office so she can learn more about them than they are sharing, thus being in a better position to help them.
With Avery doing some heavy duty detecting, we look into the lives of Matthew and Marissa and find they are keeping secrets, and that there are several people in their lives who might want to harm them. It gets more complicated when some of the people from Avery’s life cross over into the lives of the golden couple. Is it coincidence?
Sometimes when there is a dual perspective in a novel, like here where we see Marissa’s point of view as well as Avery’s, it can be confusing. But the authors have cleverly decided to have Avery’s narrative function as the first person narrative. It works beautifully because not only does it allow us to know what Avery is thinking as she makes her moves to uncover the secrets that both Marissa and Matthew are hiding, but Avery is the one who is pretty much controlling the action in the story. She gives Matthew and Marissa assignments, she demands answers, and she is ultimately the one who acts decisively when lives are at stake. And she adopted a pit bull, so she’s a winner in my book.
I really, really enjoyed this mystery; it provided so much more than I had expected. The twists and the secrets played out extraordinarily effectively. If you want to know what might really be going on underneath that seemingly perfect outer layer of a “golden couple,” this novel is a perfect choice for your summer reading! It will keep you turning the pages well past midnight.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by St. Martin’s Press, the publisher, for review purposes.