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The Perfect Family
Table of Contents
About The Book
Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.
Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs. It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry.
Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers. Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….
“Unsettling and darkly sublime, Robyn Harding deftly explores twisted family dynamics and devastating secrets in suburbia in this stunning novel that will shock readers by the final page” (Christina McDonald, USA TODAY bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell).
I STOOD ALONE in the street, watching the silent house turn down for the night. One by one, the lights blinked out, like stars dying in an inky sky. The upscale suburb was eerily quiet, no sound but my own breath. My own heartbeat. Still, I waited. And then I waited some more. The occupants had to be asleep. All of them. If someone heard me, if someone woke up, everything would be ruined. If I got caught, there would be serious consequences. Violence. Or even jail. But I wasn’t going to get caught.
It was a beautiful house; anyone would say that. It was Craftsman style; they were everywhere in Portland. Older, two-story homes with covered front porches, chunky wood columns, big picture windows. This one had been renovated and updated. It wasn’t huge or extravagant, but it was definitely expensive, and well maintained. The yard was manicured to perfection and you could probably eat off the paved driveway. Inside would be the same… an open floor plan with high-end furniture, valuable paintings, and designer knickknacks. All the shit that made a house appear elegant and refined.
But the people who lived there only looked perfect. They had done horrible things. They kept horrible secrets. People like that made me sick. Fakes. Phonies. Pretending they were better than everyone else, when they were rotten inside. Now, they were stressed, panicked, falling apart. The thought made me smile.
Pulling my hood over my head and drawing the strings tight, I moved down the driveway. My sneakers were nearly silent on the pavement, but the red plastic jug banged against my leg, so I held it aloft. The scent of gasoline was already strong in my nostrils. Good thing I’d thought to wear gloves. The smell would linger on my hands and give me away.
I stepped onto the grass, cool and damp, and cut across the lawn to the side of the house. The camera over the door blinked at me, but I’d be nothing more than a dark blur on the screen. The family thought the surveillance would be a deterrent, but it wasn’t. There was no way to identify me, no way to know who I was. Just another faceless figure lurking in the night.
At the side of the house, I squatted down, bouncing on my haunches. Adrenaline was coursing through me, my body vibrating with the need to enact my plan, but I forced myself to wait. And then I waited some more. To be safe. And to build up my courage. Because what I was about to do was serious. It could be fatal. But I couldn’t back out now.
I don’t know how long I crouched in the dark, but my knees were getting stiff and my right leg was starting to fall asleep. It was time. Bursting out of the shadows, I scurried to the decorative hedge that ran along the front of the house. Removing the lid from the gas can, I dumped the accelerant onto the shrubs, dousing the shiny green leaves with the toxic substance. A plant like this wouldn’t burn easily, but the gas would erupt. It would burst into flames, fire skittering across the foliage. There was a chance the porch railing could catch fire, that it could climb the wooden posts and ignite the second story. If the smoke alarms didn’t work…
Well, the world would be a better place without people like the Adlers.
I lit the match. And let it drop.
- Publisher: Gallery Books (August 10, 2021)
- Length: 352 pages
- ISBN13: 9781982169398
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Raves and Reviews
Praise for The Perfect Family
“Harding creates powerful character studies, reflects on societal expectations from a variety of viewpoints, and ramps up unmanageable chaos in a tale that is unforgettable on many levels. The small cast allows the author to present thoughtful interior monologues as each character considers their actions and responses and makes adjustments before the next event comes along and rearranges our understanding of everything. Readers ready for a roller coaster ride of guilty admissions peppered with red herrings and actual clues pertaining to the crimes committed will read straight to the end. A great choice for fans of Celeste Ng, Gillian Flynn, and Liane Moriarty.” —Booklist (Starred Review)
“A highly entertaining domestic thriller from Harding... The brisk plot takes several clever twists before building to a shocking act of violence. Harding is sure to win new fans with this one.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Unsettling and darkly sublime, Robyn Harding deftly explores twisted family dynamics and devastating secrets in suburbia in this stunning novel that will shock readers by the final page. The Perfect Family explores a perfect family’s perfect façade, and how even perfect lies can become perfect nightmares. A mesmerizing, compulsively readable thriller, this one smoulders from the first page to the last."—Christina McDonald, USA Today bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell
“Edgy, diabolical and completely suspenseful! The talented Robyn Harding peels back the sleek facade of suburbia to show its disturbing reality—and all the dangerous (and sometimes heartbreaking) secrets that even loving families keep from each other. Incredibly cinematic and jaw-droppingly devious, this book will have you turning the pages as fast as you can.” —Hank Phillippi Ryan USA Today bestselling author of The First to Lie
"In The Perfect Family, Robyn Harding wields deep community ties like a garrote and redefines terror in suburbia. Breathless pacing and an inescapable sense of menace make Harding's latest an absolute must-read that will scare the hell out of you as only Harding can. This one's a stunner." —P. J. Vernon, author of Bath Haus and When You Find Me
“Robyn Harding is at her twisty, devious best with The Perfect Family, a novel that peels back the veneer of suburban perfection to expose the decay beneath. A propulsive, constantly surprising read that both entertains and chills—and makes the reader question whether they really know not only their neighbors, but their own family. From the opening page to the shocking last line, I was hooked.” —Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of The Girls Are All So Nice Here
“Robyn Harding has long been one of my favourite, must-read authors, and The Perfect Family is another example why. Brilliantly layered, fabulously developed and interesting characters, and twists and turns galore all made for a compelling read I couldn't put down. Add to that Robyn's wry wit and dark sense of humour that made me laugh out loud, and this is definitely a summer hit. I loved it!” —Hannah Mary McKinnon, bestselling author of Sister Dear and You Will Remember Me.
“Harding takes the reader on a wild psychological ride with this addictive thriller.” —Palm Beach Daily News' "2021 Summer Reading List: 48 of the Best Books for Adults, Teens, and Kids"
"From the author of Her Pretty Face and The Swap comes this new novel about a seemingly perfect family who suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of vandalism and violence. Thomas and Viv have everything their neighbors want, but they’ve certainly never done anything to attract unwanted attention... right?" —PopSugar
"From the author of Her Pretty Face and The Swap comes this new novel about a seemingly perfect family who suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of vandalism and violence. Thomas and Viv have everything their neighbors want, but they’ve certainly never done anything to attract unwanted attention... right?" —Bustle, "The Most Anticipated Books of August 2021"
"Behind the facade of a perfect family is a houseful of people that all have secrets, and secrets that could make them targets for harassment in “The Perfect Family” by Robyn Harding... Secrets, guilty and otherwise are all at center stage in this wild ride of a thriller." —The Parkersburg News & Sentinel
Praise for The Swap
“[A] convincing tale of obsession and celebrity worship...Fans of psychological thrillers will be satisfied.”
– Publishers Weekly
"Harding conjures a dark, inescapable feeling...[Her] tale will please readers who enjoy delving into the details of how private actions in a relationship are different from public displays.”
“Nearly everyone in this passion play becomes delightfully unhinged in the end . . . Dangerously addictive."
– Kirkus Reviews
"There are books born for summer reading and The Swap is one of them. Steamy sex, obsession, partner swapping – this one has it all. Vancouver author Robyn Harding keeps the reader engaged with a group of fascinating characters, each with a secret."
– The Globe
“Every summer, Robyn Harding releases a twisty, turn-y thriller. And every summer, we bump it to the top of our reading lists. The Swap, about what happens when two friends swap husbands for the night, will keep you on your toes until the very end.”
– Hello Giggles
Praise for The Arrangement
“An insider's look into the world of sugar daddies . . . full of shocking revelations, volatile characters, and vice. Look out: The Arrangement will blow your mind.”
– Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl
"A nightmarish deep dive into the underbelly of a secret world. Rivetingly dark, The Arrangement delivers on every level - a shocking premise, a forbidden obsession, and a plot that builds slowly and masterfully escalates to a chilling end. Prepare to be blindsided."
– Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not a Sound
Praise for Her Pretty Face
“A fast-paced, thrilling, gut-wrenching novel with sharp teeth and daring observations about the inner lives of women. I flew through the pages, desperate to get hold of what was going on beneath the surface but Robyn Harding was always one step ahead. Positively exhilarating.”
– Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six
“The tony setting and the slowly revealed secrets make this a good read-alike for Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies.”
"Robyn Harding spins a masterful tale of the disintegration of a seemingly perfect family in the aftermath of a disastrous sweet sixteen party. Engrossing and unflinching in its portrayal of the dark side of human nature, The Party takes the concept of 'mean girls' to a whole new level."
– A. J. Banner, #1 bestselling author of The Good Neighbor and The Twilight Wife
Praise for The Party
"A tense and riveting story about one night gone horribly wrong, and the fallout within a family and a group of friends. Secrets, desires, choice and consequence, The Party reveals that what lies inside a family—and each person—is not always as it seems. I was hooked from the opening scene and could not look away until I reached the very last page."
– Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls
“Sexy and edgy . . . Harding keeps the tension taut throughout . . . [and] also raises several thought-provoking questions about love, fidelity and friendship that makes it an interesting conversation starter. . . . Harding explores toxicity in all relationships in a way that is smart and observant, but equally fun to read. The Swap is an excellent dose of escapism, perfect for readers of Cape May, Stranger in the Lake, and A Strange on the Beach.”
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- Book Cover Image (jpg): The Perfect Family Trade Paperback 9781982169398
- Author Photo (jpg): Robyn Harding Photograph by Tallulah(0.1 MB)
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