Review: The Perfect Daughter by D. J. Palmer


Release date: April 20, 2021

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


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.


I likened the authors last book to a Lifetime movie and I still kinda feel the same way about this one, although this one was a little meatier and I did like it a bit more. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a dramatic made for TV movie though and that’s exactly the kind of mood I was in when I started this one.

I thought the mental illness portrayed here was done in a really interesting and mindful way. The whole first half I was super into this aspect and loved learning about the psychological side of this. Care and research must have been used because I found it to be very detailed, so if you’re at all interested in DID then this may be for you. The pacing was pretty solid as well, I was definitely invested enough that I read it quickly and wanted to know how it would all come together. Did it end how I wanted it to? Mostly, it was a tiny bit ridiculous but there were so many strong aspects that I’ll let it slide. An enjoyable read for me and one I predict will be a fan favorite because I think it’s definitely a step up from the authors last book.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

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