The Perfect Daughter

The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer hardcover book in the woods with gold leaves

The Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer

Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
Genres: Mystery/Thriller
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Book Review

One night Grace receives an unexpected visit from the Lynn Police department. They have her daughter Penny in custody for murder. There is little question of her guilt, she was found covered in the victim’s blood with no one else around. But Penny is not like other girls. She has severe Disassociative Identity Disorder. As Penny, her family, and her psychiatrist start to build their case, their only hope is to try to figure out if one of her alters knows more than they are letting on. But as Grace and Mitch dig deeper into Penny’s past, the more secrets they discover. 

The Perfect Daughter is a truly, twisty psychological thriller. The story is told from three alternating POVs: Grace, Penny’s adoptive mother, Mitch, Penny’s psychiatrist, and Jackson, Penny’s adoptive brother. I learned so much about Disassociate Identity Disorder (formerly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder). The amount of research done by D.J. Palmer was incredible. There were so many nuances to the disorder and so many interesting facets. I loved how we got to meet Penny’s alters and how unique they each were.

The pacing started a bit slow for a thriller, with lots of character building, and discussions about Penny’s diagnosis and defense plan. But once Penny starts switching between her various alters, the story quickly picks up pace. I read the majority of the book in an afternoon. I felt like I held my breath right up until the very end. The ending twist absolutely blew my mind.

Thank you to St Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the review copy! All opinions are my own.

Synopsis from Goodreads

The Perfect Daughter is a thriller that explores the truth or lies behind a teenage girl’s multiple personality disorder, from D.J. Palmer, the author of The New Husband.

Grace never dreamt she’d visit her teenaged daughter Penny in the locked ward of a decaying state psychiatric hospital, charged with the murder of a stranger. There was not much question of her daughter’s guilt. Police had her fingerprints on the murder weapon and the victim’s blood on her body and clothes. But they didn’t have a motive.

Grace blames herself, because that’s what mothers do—they look at their choices and wonder, what if? But hindsight offers little more than the chance for regret.

None of this was conceivable the day Penny came into her life. Then, it seemed like a miracle. Penny was found abandoned, with a mysterious past, and it felt like fate brought Penny to her, and her husband Arthur. But as she grew, Penny’s actions grew more disturbing, and different “personalities” emerged.

Arthur and Grace took Penny to different psychiatrists, many of whom believed she was putting on a show to help manage her trauma. But Grace didn’t buy it. The personas were too real, too consistent. It had to be a severe multiple personality disorder. One determined psychiatrist, Dr. Mitch McHugh, helped discover someone new inside Penny—a young girl named Abigail. Is this the nameless girl who was abandoned in the park years ago? Mitch thinks Abigail is the key to Penny’s past and to the murder. But as Grace and Mitch dig deeper, they uncover dark and shocking secrets that put all their lives in grave danger.

About the Author

D.J. Palmer is the author of numerous critically acclaimed suspense novels. A former e-commerce entrepreneur, D.J. Palmer now resides in New Hampshire and is currently at work on a new book.


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