It’s October, I’m in thriller mode (for the first time in a long time), and my eagerness for mysteries and scary stories isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. My latest read is a book I’d actually picked up an entire year ago: Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy. Since then, I’ve only heard good things about it, so I was excited to dig in.
In a rare case of perfect timing, I started it on October 20th – the same day that the prologue opens up the book! Now, two days later, I’ve reemerged and yes, this book is as great and twisty as everyone said.
|Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy|
|Number of Pages||289|
|Format I Read||Hardcover (BOTM)|
|Original Publication Date||October 13, 2020|
A handsome psychotherapist. His lonely wife. And in his home office ceiling, a vent …
You’d listen too, wouldn’t you? (You know you would.)
Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York City and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown upstate. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele. Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.
Showcasing Molloy’s deft ability to subvert norms and culminating in the kind of stunning twist that is becoming her trademark, Goodnight Beautiful is a thrilling tale of domestic suspense that not only questions assumptions but defies expectations.
Goodnight Beautiful is a tricky book to review, simply because it’s a landmine of spoilers. So bear with me while I avoid those… but do know that this book is shocking and thought-provoking and overall just a great thriller.
The book starts off with a young couple, Sam and Annie, who just moved back to his hometown in Upstate New York. Sam is a therapist with a new home office, but he’s also set up as a reformed playboy with a high likelihood of cheating. His dad did, and you know what they say: like father, like son. Annie, though educated, seems to pass her time playing the bored housewife and pretending to be busier than she actually is. Eventually, she starts listening in on Sam’s therapy sessions, forming opinions on his patients and even researching things about them to better understand them.
Early on, it’s clear that Sam does have some issues… though perhaps not what you’d think. But his secrets don’t bode well when he eventually disappears one stormy night.
From here, Goodnight Beautiful is full of major twists and turns. Divided into three parts, the biggest shocks come during those transitions. The first twist was so unexpected that I had to stop and just think for a few minutes. Then I went back and reread passages, wondering how the new information aligned with what I’d already read. This is perhaps the biggest (or at least second biggest) twist I’ve personally seen in a book, and it was disorienting but wholly thrilling.
Later on there’s another big twist that I also did not see coming, though I was able to comprehend it more quickly. A final reveal later on isn’t ground-breaking, but it does make a lot of sense. It’s perhaps the only one I suspected at all.
Because of those major twists and reveals, there’s not a lot I can say here without treading into spoilery territory. What I will say, though, is this: Goodnight Beautiful is a book that will make you question your reading comprehension at times. You’ll be forced to reckon with how you perceive things and the assumptions you make. In some ways, it turns certain tropes on their heads, echoing something Annie says early on in the book. It’s masterfully done.
I also do enjoy how this novel discusses mental health, inherited trauma, and the fears and doubts we have about people based on their pasts and the people close to them.
By the novel’s end, there’s a satisfying conclusion that’s rather bittersweet. It ties up more neatly than some thrillers, but there are also some issues that aren’t – or can’t be – resolved entirely. Such is life.
Goodnight Beautiful is an excellent and twisty thriller that will really impact how you interpret what you read. It’s my first book by Aimee Molloy, but I am now quite eager to read more from her. In the meantime, I’ll be recommending this book to everyone.
About the Author
Aimee Molloy is the author of the New York Times non-fiction bestseller However Long the Night, as well as the co-author of several other books, including Rosewater, which was made into a movie by Jon Stewart. Film rights for The Perfect Mother have been optioned by Sony/TriStar with Kerry Washington set to star in and produce the adaptation. Aimee lives in Brooklyn with her family.