The Perfect Daughter
The Perfect Daughter
by D.J. Palmer
Published April 20, 2021
by St. Martin’s Press
Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
When Grace finds a young girl alone in the park on a rainy day, she instantly feels connected to her. Formally adopting the girl, the Francone family starts calling her Penny as she is suffering from PTSD won’t respond to her birth name, Isabella. As Penny gets older, some odd behaviors start coming through – for example, she occasionally adopts a British accent and asks to go by Ruby, or when she’s particularly moody and sullen, she prefers to go by the name Eve. When a psychiatrist finally diagnoses her with DID (dissociative identity disorder, more commonly referred to as multiple personalities), the pieces start making sense and the Francone family hope they’ll be able to move forward.
But Penny (or her alters), won’t make it easy on the Francone family. Penny, or more likely Eve, was involved in graphic and violent death threats against many people in the community ultimately leading to an arrest. Penny was also the only one present when their father dies and Penny’s brother Ryan can’t seem to accept the fact that it was a heart attack that took his life blaming Penny even if wrongfully so.
Even more damning, when Penny is later found at a murder scene, covered in blood, holding the murder weapon, it’s hard to believe there could be a conceivable explanation other than Penny has viciously murdered someone. And when Penny seems to disappear and only her alter Eve is present, the Francone family worries they’ve lost her forever. At Edgewater Hospital awaiting her trial, Penny’s family chooses not to give up on her. But convincing themselves and others that Penny is innocent, and even that she truly does suffer from DID, will be harder than they ever imagined.
D.J. Palmer does it again!! This was an excellent read mixing true crime, personality disorders, and an investigation all in one.
I loved that this novel was about so much more than the murder. From the beginning, the reader is primed to question if Penny even really does have DID or if she’s just been playing her family and is truly a sociopath. Penny was adopted when she was four years old, but no one knows anything about her past. Did she come from a home where she was abused so badly that she coped by creating multiple personalities? Or did her past turn her into a monster?
We receive breadcrumbs about Penny’s past through therapy and try to fit the pieces together about the night that left a woman dead. We also learn about the victim and possible reasons why she was targeted. All the while, the Francone family is spiraling out of control trying to save Penny from a life in prison or at a mental institution.
I’ve read all of D.J. Palmer’s novels and it’s safe to say he’s an auto-buy/-read author for me at this point! This one has definitely been my favorite as it kept me on my toes the whole time. I had no idea what to believe, who to trust, and kept waiting for another big reveal or twist around every corner!
If you’re into true crime or psychological thrillers, this is an absolute must read!
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy of this novel.