“Often the most effective psychological studies are rooted in deception. For example, a subject can be led to believe he or she is being evaluated for one behavior when, in fact, the psychologist has engineered this decoy to measure something else entirely.”
So explains Dr. Lydia Shields, the beautiful, deeply disturbed therapist who hooks an unsuspecting woman into a study with a sinister ulterior motive.
Jessica Farris is her unwitting subject. Jess is barely eking out an existence as a New York City makeup artist, sending as much money as she can back to Philadelphia for her parents and disabled younger sister. After an abusive experience with a former employer, Jess has closed herself off from meaningful relationships, instead seeking one-night encounters with men she meets in bars. She sneaks into Dr. Shields’ study to make some extra cash, not knowing she will become a pawn in a twisted marital game that’s already wrecked lives.
The women have just one thing in common: childhood decisions that had catastrophic results for their families. But while Jess’ remorse drives her, Dr. Shields glides through life certain the ends justify the means. She preys upon Jess’ guilt and self-doubt, sending her on a series of increasingly dangerous tasks, to help determine whether her husband is cheating.
Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen previously teamed up to write the deliciously creepy The Wife Between Us. It defies reason that two authors—living in different cities!—can create one seamless story, but they deliver again with An Anonymous Girl. It’s a taut exploration of marriage and manipulation. Dr. Shields is a chilling psycho for the ages, speaking in passive, detached language. Jess finds herself in a race to outwit a woman trained in matters of the mind.