Review | All the Wrong Places, Joy Fielding

40712004All the Wrong Places is an entertaining, engrossing read.

It’s billed as a thriller and in some ways, it is. There’s certainly an undercurrent of menace throughout with the presence of the serial killer (who gets his own chapters so we see his schemes unfold in terrifying detail. There are also red herrings galore and an unexpected, violent twist.

But despite all that, the novel didn’t feel as if it focused on the thrillerish aspects so much as on the three women (Paige, her mother Joan and best friend Chloe) all trying to rebuild their lives after traumatic experiences. Even though the blurb teases about the dangers of online dating, only one of the characters ever actually seriously tries it out. The rest dip their toes into it, but their stories ultimately take them in a different direction.

I liked that. I was expecting a pretty standard thriller but got something else entirely, which kept me off-balance throughout. I also like how Fielding delves into issues of domestic violence and emotional abuse (with enough detail to merit a content warning), and the harsh realities thereof.

One thing I didn’t like is that the subplots about Joan’s trips to the hospital got a bit repetitive after a while. The first time was horrific, but by the last visit’s reveal, it just felt like an unnecessary element to add artificial drama rather than anything real. That being said, I do like that Joan gets her own romance, and that Fielding makes Paige, and likely many readers as well, confront and critically examine our assumptions when it comes to dating for senior citizens.

I also really didn’t like how Heather’s story turns out. Fielding does a good job of making her sympathetic despite all the crap she pulls. And possibly because all the other main characters hate Heather so much, I genuinely found her one of the most sympathetic characters. I thought she at least deserved more sympathy than she was given, and I wish her story could have been resolved differently.

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Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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