I’m going to come out with the truth quick and fast: I’ve avoided Elin Hilderbrand’s books for a while because I always heard them referred to as “the perfect beach reads”. To me, that means that they’re fluffy, predictable, and easy to read. When I found a copy of The Perfect Couple on my latest book haul, I decided to give her a chance to change my mind.
In the novel, Hilderbrand quickly introduces a slew of main characters at a rapid pace as a murder mystery scene unfolds. There’s Benji and Celeste, the groom and bride to be. There’s Benji’s parents and Celeste’s parents. There’s the best man Shooter. There’s the cops in the scene, and finally, there’s Merritt, the maid of honor, and the reason behind the chaos… she was found floating face down in the pool.
In a rewind to the time leading up to the wedding, and we learn more about everyone’s background and past. Merritt was an Instagram influencer with a seemingly glamorous life, but an affair of the past made her struggle to get to where she was. Celeste met Merritt just as she was debating about giving up the New York City life. If they hadn’t met, Celeste wouldn’t be where she was at her job at the zoo, a place where she feels her knowledge of animals is appreciated and not considered weird. She also wouldn’t have met Benji and his friend Shooter- though this may have been a curse as well. We also learn more about Celeste and Benji’s parents, and their interesting relationship dynamics.
As things shake out, I was not surprised by many of the plot twists, but I was still having difficulty figuring out who killed Merritt, if anyone was to blame. I have to say that Hilderbrand’s writing wasn’t exactly what I expected. I certainly wasn’t expecting a murder mystery, and I was truly intrigued in the array of characters and the roll they might play in Merritt’s life (and death). I did think the title and the way the relationships played out in the novel was a little too cliché, and I did have some issues with the predictability of the plot, as well as the word choice throughout the novel. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a book’s dialogue consists of :
“blah blah blah” he said.
“la la la” she said.
“blah blah” he said.
Throw in something else- he argues, she states, he rebuttals, etc. It’s not a deal breaker for a novel, but it does tend to get on my nerves. However, the novel was fast paced, which I always enjoy, and had plenty of drama to keep me reading. Overall, I’m glad that I gave The Perfect Couple a chance. It wasn’t a knockout, but it was an enjoyable read.