The Personal Assistant
reviewed by Carolyn Scott
Alex is an Insta influencer ‘Unapologetically Alex’ who posts about family life and motivational moments under the tag @unapoligeticallyAlex. She has amassed a million followers and makes a great deal in sponsorship and endorsements.
She has had to hire a personal assistant, Anna Clare, known as AC, to help her cope with the sheer volume of her social media while keeping up with her twin 12 year old girls. Alex’s husband Patrick is a perfect stepfather to her daughters, but works long days as a TV news financial advisor and doesn’t quite understand the world of Instagram or the celebrity of influencers.
Just as Alex is celebrating her one millionth Insta follower, her world blows up spectacularly. A post she doesn’t remember making appears on her site bagging a teenage actress in a popular high school drama in the worst way. Suddenly the trolls have come out their lairs and are gunning for her. Not just her, her husband and daughters also become targets of fake photos and accusations. On the same day that her blog implodes, her assistant AC goes missing and now the police are snooping around in the belief that Alex might be responsible. Just when she needs her personal assistant most, she’s disappeared.
This is gripping domestic suspense. Alex can feel her world closing in claustrophobically as the vitriolic attack of the internet trolls, led by the ironically named Mr Fluffles, ramps up to tangible threats of violence and real harm for her and her family. With still no sign of AC, Alex begins to wonder is she is behind her downfall. But then why would the ever pleasant AC hate Alex so much that she would do something so horrendous? Alex is also concerned that her husband is hiding something from her. He’s never liked AC, so does he know something about her he’s not telling Alex?
The suspense and tension build up gradually, but inexorably, never feeling too slow, keeping the reader guessing at the reasons behind AC’s disappearance and the toxic attack on Alex’s social media and her family’s safety. Through it all is woven an earlier tale of a young motel maid and her relationship with a wealthy man. How this connects to the current story nearly thirty years later takes some time to resolve, leading to some unexpected revelations that ultimately connect the two events. This is an addictive, multi-layered tale of greed, revenge and obsession that you won’t want to put down once you start to read it.
With thanks to Harlequin via Netgalley for a copy to read.