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by Kaira Rouda
Graydon House, September 2017
352 pages
ISBN: 1525811401

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Advertising executive Paul Strom has planned a "best day ever" full of surprises for his lovely wife Mia with whom he lives in the Columbus, Ohio area with their two young sons. As they drive away from their home for a quick stay alone opening up their Lake Erie vacation house for the season, his mind is spinning with how wonderful this day will be for both of them and the many special things he has planned. Paul's mental soliloquy goes on and on with only brief interruptions of conversation between him and Mia, and readers are drawn into the image he gives of his love for his wife and sons, his successful career, and his kind and generous nature.

Kaira Rouda injects little signs and hints from the very first chapter that things are not quite what Paul seems to think they are, and by the third chapter we know that something is very, very wrong. Just what is so off is not clear at all but Paul's obsession with his own image is a flag-waving clue. It is no secret that this is a novel of psychological suspense so readers are forewarned, but not really prepared for the wild path they will be taken down.

What is clear fairly quickly is that the image Paul projects of himself has little contact with reality and that Paul is unaware that the kind of person he keeps telling us and himself that he is has nothing to do with his behavior and reactions to others that we keep observing.

I am one who does not attempt to review a novel until I have read it twice. The second reading of BEST DAY EVER simply cements the first impression of Paul as a person disconnected from others, from reality, and from himself. And although usually I would comment more fully on characterization and plot development, this time I will pass. It's suspense and I have no right to wreck it.

What comment I can and will make is that this is swiftly moving and steadily interesting, a wonderful bit of late summer escape reading. I recommend it happily.

Diana Borse is retired from teaching English at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and savoring the chance to read as much as she always wanted to.

Reviewed by Diana Borse, August 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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