Book Review: Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy
By Ray PalenOctober 21, 2020
Author Aimee Molloy has already been referred to as ‘a master of clever misdirection’—and that was just from her debut novel, The Perfect Mother, which has already been optioned for a feature film starring Kerry Washington.
Molloy has the misdirection tool firmly in use with her second release, Goodnight Beautiful. It’s one of those novels where you just know you are not getting the full picture and at any moment the entire narrative can shift on you. Psychologist Dr. Sam Statler has relocated with his new wife, Annie Potter, to his sleepy upstate New York town from New York City. Sam and Annie had not known each other a terribly long time and now with Annie being on Sam’s old turf, she will begin to learn more about the man she married.
It’s bad when his own mother has no faith in him, but that is the case with Sam’s mom who is ill in a local nursing home. Even though she is leaving all she has to her only son, she still thinks he is a shifty womanizer just like his father was and that it is a matter of time before he ruins Annie’s life. To keep their relationship fresh, Sam and Annie utilize various forms of sexual role play and early on in the novel, it will catch the reader off guard until you realize it is just one of their games. Meanwhile. Dr. Statler has set up his office in a local mansion of a home and has begun seeing new patients. It becomes evident that there may be some financial problems he is keeping from everyone, including Annie. This is especially obvious when he seems to be banking everything on the two million dollars he plans to inherit from his father. The wheels come off when he goes to his local bank branch to learn there is only $274.18 in the account for him.
Shortly after this, Sam just disappears. If this were a true story, it would have been obvious to any shrewd reporter or police investigator that Sam got in over his head financially and just took off. However, that would not make for a very entertaining psychological thriller so Aimee Molloy has other plans. Sam awakens with two broken legs in the home of someone he knows well (I will leave that name to your imagination). Ironically, his ‘captor’ had been reading Stephen King’s Misery at the time of the abduction.
Annie is having a heck of a time convincing the local Police Chief that there is foul play involved in Sam’s disappearance. For one, the police are well aware of Sam’s financial troubles, and secondly, their investigation uncovered that one of Sam’s purported patients was actually made up by Annie and actually was part of their sexual role-playing. This is just the tip of the iceberg as Aimee Molloy has many tricks up her sleeve and the sometimes confusing narrative is all part of the previously proclaimed misdirection that she is so proud of. Goodnight Beautiful is a solid read that reveals plot elements bit by bit until the picture becomes clear just before things are wrapped up with a satisfying finale.