Jodi Picoult,
Perfect Match
(Hodder & Stoughton, 2002)

The sexual abuse of children is a subject that can provide prurient interest or a discussion of moral dilemmas. It is a matter not to be taken lightly, and one that many shy away from for fear of being seen as sensationalists.

Jodi Picoult attacks it with a steady hand and sure eye in this novel.

As ever, she has her subject researched very well, but again she manages to package the most heinous of crimes so well that the reader never feels voyeuristic. We read the story for entertainment, but we are also being educated on a subject that we, as a society, must confront.

This writer does not write for literary plaudits. She writes to entertain and, by the back door it seems, to educate her readers. She does this by hiding the moral in the long grass.

As you read Perfect Match you are never preached at or given reams of science. Yet by the time you reach page 389 you know more about DNA, false memory and the legal system than you did at page 1. You absorb the knowledge as you gallop from page to page. You learn new insights as the plot twists and turns without advance warning. You will give serious thought to issues raised as you at one moment condemn the "nasty" character and a few chapters later you applaud him. Picoult has the reader on strings like a marionette. She manages to tug at your emotions with ease.

As ever in a thriller -- I suppose her genre is ethical thriller -- I cannot disclose the ending, but in a Jodi Picoult book even disclosing the plot outcome on page 33 (an arbitrary choice) could steal some of the enjoyment. Suffice to say that the book will satisfy you as a thriller, an ethical dilemma, a talking point or a good story.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

8 November 2008

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