Goodnight Beautiful

by Aimee Molloy
Harper, October 2020, $27.99

Annie Potter and her new husband Sam Statler are settling into married life in Upstate New York, where Sam, a therapist, has gone into private practice. They plan to start a quiet life away from the chaos of New York City, as well as make regular visits to Sam’s ailing mother, who lives in a nursing home nearby. Despite their mutual love, things aren’t perfect. Sam is keeping secrets from Annie, both personal and financial, which threaten to undo their newlywed bliss.

Sam becomes preoccupied and distant and Annie is unsure what is going on or how to help. Then one night, Sam never comes home from work. Annie calls the police to report him missing, but there is no sign of Sam or his car, no indication as to what has happened. Her husband seems to have vanished entirely.

As the police investigate and Annie starts uncovering some of Sam’s secrets, she questions whether she really knew Sam and wonders whether he could have left on his own. But this mystery is far from predictable, and several shocking revelations will throw everything the reader knows into question and make uncovering the truth a daunting task.

Aimee Molloy’s newest book, Goodnight Beautiful, at first comes across as a fairly straightforward missing-spouse case…but there are plot twists so jarring, there will be many times when the reader will think, “Yikes, I didn’t see that coming!”

Molloy does a phenomenal job getting into the hearts and souls of her characters, including their weaknesses and psychological issues—which is fitting, since Sam is a therapist and psychology plays a key role in the story. Molloy’s examination of characters’ motives, personalities, flaws—and in the case of the villain of the story, mental issues and delusions—really make them well developed and complex.

The author’s strongest point, however, is in how she artfully crafts scenes that hide the truth and make the reader think one thing, which inevitably gets upended by the creative plot twists. Goodnight Beautiful succeeds as a mystery and a psychological thriller. It’s difficult to explain the author’s true mastery of the plot without revealing spoilers, so suffice it to say this is a mystery people will have to read for themselves to fully appreciate its complexity and the intricacy of its storyline.

Sarah Prindle
Teri Duerr
October 2020