An Entertainment Weekly hottest read of the summer • A USA Today hottest read of the week • A Refinery29 best thriller of June • A New York Post best book of the week
“With hairpin twists and immense psychological acuity, Kelsey Rae Dimberg’s Girl in the Rearview Mirror is as seductive as the glamorous, privileged family at its center—and as cunning. An exciting, intoxicating debut, it will hold you until its startling final pages.”
Megan Abbott, bestselling author of Dare Me and Give Me Your Hand
I never meant to lie. That is, I never wanted to.They are Phoenix’s First Family: handsome Philip Martin, son of the sitting Senator, an ex-football player who carries himself with an easy grace and appears destined to step into his father’s seat when the time is right; his wife Marina, the stylish and elegant director of Phoenix’s fine arts museum; and their four-year-old daughter Amabel, beautiful and precocious and beloved.
Finn Hunt is working a dull office job to pay off her college debt when she meets Philip and charms Amabel. She eagerly agrees to nanny, thinking she’s lucked into the job of a lifetime. Though the glamour of the Martins’ lifestyle undeniably dazzles Finn, her real pleasure comes from being part of the family: sharing quick jokes with Philip in the kitchen before he leaves for work; staying late when Marina needs a last-minute sitter; and spending long days with Amabel, who is often treated more like a photo op than a child.
But behind every façade lurks a less attractive truth. When a young woman approaches Finn, claiming a connection with Philip and asking Finn to pass on a message, Finn becomes caught up in a web of deceit with the senate seat at its center. And Finn isn’t exactly innocent herself: she too has a background she has kept hidden, and under the hot Phoenix sun, everything is about to be laid bare. . . .
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About the Author
Kelsey Rae Dimberg received an MFA from the University of San Francisco and studied at Barrett Honors College of Arizona State University, where she was editor-in-chief of the literary magazine, Lux, and received the Swarthout Award in Fiction. Girl in the Rearview Mirror is her first novel. Born in Seattle, Kelsey has lived in eight states, and currently resides in Milwaukee.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Finn Hunt spent the day with Amabel Martin, age 4, at the holiday festival in Arizona. Her family was there as well camaigning. Amabel is the granddaughter of Senator Jim Martin and the daughter of Jim’s son, Philip Martin and his wife Marina. Finn is Amabel’s nanny. Jim’s campaign against a Democrat hasn’t been going well. Philip plans to run for his father seat next term. Finn’s boyfriend, Bryant, also works in the political arena. Marina is the typical politician’s wife keeping busy with charities while she keeps her body in perfect shape. Philip is the slick politician who can’t seem to keep it in his pants. Amabel is precocious and Finn adores her doing more to raise her than her own mother does. When someone pops up trying to blame Philip for something he’s done, Finn takes it upon herself to play sleuth and try to figure out who’s who and what’s going on. Seriously? She’s the nanny and their personal lives should be none of her business. I found Finn to be a typical politician hanger-on dazzled by the “power” of politicians like the Martins. I can’t help but find it pathetic when politicians minions are almost salivating to be a part of their lives. I did not care for this story. It didn’t build well and, thus, became boring very quickly. Sorry. Not for me. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
“Girl in the Rearview Mirror” follows Finn Hunt, the nanny for little Amabel whose wealthy parents—Philip and Marina Martin—are the son and daughter-in-law of Senator Jim Martin, who’s running for re-election. Which is why the timing is particularly bad when Finn is approached by a red-haired woman who begins stalking the family, claiming a connection with Philip. Against her better judgment, Finn, who is also dating a man who works for the Senator, becomes entangled in the family’s tragedies and secrets, with lethal results. Overall, this was a dark story, but with gorgeous prose. The descriptions of Arizona and the various locale were nicely done, and written in a way that made them come alive. There was a twist mid-way through the book which I didn’t see coming, though I did find the resolution to the mystery to be more simplistic than I anticipated, probably because the secret at the heart of the story wasn’t shocking to me. Another issue for me were the characters. Their coldness made them realistic, but also not someone I wanted to root for. The actions of the main character—who got overly involved in the family’s conflict without having a personal stake in it—were also kind of odd. Despite this, the story was riddled with enough conflicts to keep me turning the pages.
“Girl in the Rearview Mirror” was a very divisive thriller for me. I think that my interest level in this book was high when I first began, but I grew less and less interested as I continued to read. The book follows the story of Finn (female), who becomes entangled with many mysteries surrounding the political family she works for. Finn is shady, all on her own, from the secrets she hides and the stories she tells the readers. However, I felt that the intrigue paid off to almost non-existent suspense and insignificant plot reveals. I give credit where credit’s due. This is a good first debut novel, but it just did not blow me out of the water. There are so many different reveals and plot twists, that it will be hard to review this book without giving much away. To do so, I will list what I liked and disliked about this book, because I’d rather not spoil any details. Likes: 1. The dialogue was fantastic. It was very realistic and natural. The characters had their own distinct style of speaking. 2. There is a fantastic twist halfway through about the granddaughter of the Senator, the child of the two main characters, Philip and Marina. Goodness gracious, I didn’t see that coming. That certainly knocked my socks off in the best way. 3. I’ve always liked an unsettling final chapter. Dislikes: 1. The rearview mirror motif was ever-present and extremely overdone. 2. I really disliked the writing style, because there was too much detail. I enjoyed mostly all of the scenes; however, the dialogue was very omniscient. Finn spoke about how characters felt and how they experienced moments that she was not there for. There was one scene where she spoke about the past political campaigns and knew far too much detail, that made her all-knowing rather than the typical first-person narrative. It didn’t make sense to me. 3. The final reveals of all the characters motivations felt very limiting and could have been explored further. The ending felt very rushed. The climax was just plain anticlimactic. 4. Sadly, this book just did not grip me, the way we hope for with suspense thrillers. I did not feel I was on the edge of my seat. I was not desperate to pick the book back up again. In conclusion, I do recommend this book. This wasn’t a favorite of mine, but the writer has great chops. I feel that she will be a great writer, but I just wasn’t that intrigued by the plot and the characters of this one. I fully plan to read books by her in the future. This book reminded me of “The Last Mrs. Parrish” and “The Other Mother”.
This book belongs in that rare category of crime thrillers that will stick with you long after you've read it. The writing is superb and atmospheric; the characters are real people that you know (or may wish you knew). The plot twists will chew you up and spit you out. The rush of gated-community Scottsdale gives way to the slow burn of tension in the book's second half, as Finn becomes a sort of Marlowe for the millennial age, following the clues and her own nascent detective instincts while juggling an increasingly hostile set of characters and her own emotional ties to the family. The devastating conclusion manages to simultaneously feel shocking but also somehow inevitable for every character -- the sense that even if we didn't see these things coming, we should have, and we've somehow been complicit in maintaining the social structures that made all the tragedies in this book possible. Dimberg captures the best of what noir can do -- holding the "dark mirror" up to capitalist society and leaving the reader with no tidy answers, just unsettling questions. If you still believe in substantive crime writing that rewards multiple readings, this is the novel for you! Highly recommended!!