The Golden Couple
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
I’m making “therapist thrillers” a new genre. As soon as you hear it, you can think of a book that fits, right?
As thrillers continue to probe the boundaries of mental health, more therapists are taking on main character roles. Following in the footsteps of The Silent Patient, The Golden Couple features a therapist named Avery that becomes too invested in the lives of her clients. You explore the many, many deer trails of the book through the eyes of two characters: Avery and Marissa, the wife.
Avery lost her license for violating patient confidentiality. She caught wind that a pharmaceutical company was allowing an unsafe drug to remain on the market because it was cheaper to let a small percentage of people die than to recall the drug. That never happens in real life, right? All sarcasm aside, the pharmaceutical company is making it VERY CLEAR that they want the name of her informant.
Meanwhile, Avery took the lemons life handed her and made lemonade. She is now a renegade therapist who promises to heal couples in 10 sessions or less using unconventional means. In reality, those “unconventional means” involve a lot of stalking, breaking & entering, and a very observant, intuitive spirit. Who are we to judge, though.
One day, Marissa and Matthew Bishop walk through her door. Marissa and Matthew have known each other since they were teenagers. Matthew was the rich kid that vacationed on the island where Marissa lived. Marissa spent most of her teenage years hanging out with her best friend, Tina, and going to bonfires with other teenagers on the island (names purposefully omitted). When Matthew came into her parents’ store one day, she was shocked to discover that he was nice, unlike many of the rich kids who summered on the island. Their love sprouted from there. When tragedy strikes and Tina ends up murdered, Matthew helps Marissa cope. Her high school English teacher is arrested for the murder.
Now, years later, Marissa and Matthew find themselves in Avery’s office. During the first meeting, Marissa admits to Matthew that she had an affair. Matthew blows up (as one would), demanding to know who it was. Marissa said it was a one-night fling with someone from her gym. But, Marissa is lying. The fling was actually with an old friend of the Bishops, and he seems determined to not let Marissa go.
Marissa and Matthew both weave a web of lies throughout the book, and every character seems a little suspect. There’s Polly, Marissa’s overly-eager assistant; Natalie, a PTO mom who has a crush on Matthew; Chris, Matthew’s estranged father, and more. While trying to untangle the knots of their relationship, Avery continues to receive threatening messages from the pharmaceutical company. They always seem to sneak past her security and into her life, whether it be by posing as a patient to gain entry into her house, or taking Avery out on a few dates so that the man can sneak into her office.
While this book will keep you guessing, I don’t know if it is PRODUCTIVE guessing. I felt like the authors weaved this beautiful mystery only to choose a predictable ending. There was one way in which a character responded to a situation that nagged me throughout the book. I kept thinking, “Well, that’s not real life.” The only solace I had once the culprit was revealed was that I had picked up on the right clue.
If you don’t read a lot of thrillers, this will be a great book that will entertain you. You might even give it five stars. But, if you are like me and read a ton of thrillers, I would call it a little predictable and lackluster. I still plowed through it and enjoyed the journey along the way.
Not bad for a therapist thriller.