- Title: All the Wrong Places
- Author: Joy Fielding
- Format: Digital audiobook
- Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
- Length: 10 hours, 52 minutes
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Year of Release: 2019
- Trigger Warnings: Abuse, murder, and violence
Online dating is a crapshoot. Sometimes, you end up finding out that the hottie in the photo isn’t your prospective date. Nope. Your tall, dark, and handsome hunk turns out to be short, balding, and barely able to string together a sentence. Not only that, but he lied about his income and is jobless and living on his mother’s couch. Joy Fielding demonstrates that an inaccurate photo and an unemployed bum may be the least of your worries. In her novel All The Wrong Places, a serial killer lurks in the Boston area, and he finds his victims by perusing the numerous profiles of the women who think their Mr. Right is just a click away.
The stories of four women are intertwined in this novel. Paige, a recently laid-off advertising executive; her cousin Heather, embittered and jealous because Paige seems to be more successful in every way; her mother Joan, who is still grieving the loss of her husband to cancer; and Paige’s best friend Chloe, who is struggling with the dilemma of staying with an abusive husband while raising their two young children. Each of these women find their way to online dating, for one reason or another. Unfortunately for them, they become caught in the crosshairs of Boston’s serial killer, and he isn’t going to be denied a victim once he’s made his pick.
Paige is the main protagonist of this novel. She has been feverishly searching for employment since she was laid off after a large company bought out the advertising firm where she worked. Her fruitless job search has given her self-esteem a good beating. To add insult to injury, her long-time boyfriend Noah decided that if one woman was good for him, two would be doubly exciting! Hurt, lonely, and downtrodden, Paige turns to online dating to find Mr. Rebound Man, even if that means she unintentionally breaks a heart while doing so.
Her mother Joan is still grieving the loss of her husband Robert. He was her first and only love, and it’s hard for her to imagine inviting another man into her life. Besides, she is concerned that she would upset her children, especially Paige, if she brought another man into the family. She and Paige are living together while Paige endeavors to get back onto her feet, and have a very close and somewhat codependent relationship. Joan sees Paige using a dating app one evening, and with some curiosity, decides to see if online dating has any merit for a senior citizen like herself.
Heather, who has resented Paige for years, has had a lifelong competition with her cousin. She dresses similarly, finds her own job working for an advertising company, and even seduces Noah away. Buyer’s remorse has set in, however, because she begins to realize that Noah is boring and unromantic. The relationship was built on an affair, so it eventually ends, but the vast pool of men available online is Heather’s oyster, and she’s not about to pass up an opportunity to find something better.
Chloe has been in an unhappy marriage, but her husband Matt is the only man she has ever known. After having lived with a mother whose priorities were alcohol and pursuing her own desires, Chloe hasn’t had a healthy female role model in her life. It isn’t a surprise, then, that her husband turns out to be a verbally abusive philanderer. When she discovers that he has created profiles on a multitude of dating sites, she thinks about giving him a taste of his own medicine.
Boston’s unnamed serial killer lurks at the edge of their lives, watching and waiting for the right time to strike. We are given brief glimpses into his life, sometimes while he is committing a murder, and other times while he is expertly blending into society.
This book is told in the third-person point of view, and shifts its perspective among the five main characters. It was a fun read with snappy dialogue and some melodrama, including Joan’s multiple trips to the ER. However, although this book bills itself as a thriller, the serial killer did not make enough of a regular presence to give me any thrills. I would classify this as contemporary women’s fiction with a dash of suspense and angst thrown in.
Since I accessed this novel by listening to the audiobook, I can’t neglect to give Saskia Maarleveld a shout-out. She is a master at creating different voices for each of the characters. Whether she is playing the role of Joan, Chloe’s young children, the serial killer, or an enraged Heather, she is able to bring these characters to life. The quality of the narration can make or break a book, and Ms. Maarleveld’s masterful performance definitely made this a riveting novel. I suspect that if I was reading this in Braille, I may have become impatient with the plodding pace of the story and skipped forward to read the unexpectedly ironic conclusion.