THE NEXT GIRL By Pip Drysdale (Simon & Schuster, 30 November 2022)
Pip Drysdale is one of the brightest new stars in the realm of first person psychological suspense. Her books feature young, edgy, slightly unreliable female narrators, who mix bad decisions with courage, and a willingness to take chances to achieve results. The Strangers We Know from a couple of years ago was probably my pick of her books so far, but I think her latest one, The Next Girl (Simon & Schuster, 30 November 2022), is even better.
The Next Girl opens with Billie being unfairly dismissed from her job as a paralegal in a New York legal firm when they lose a big case, ostensibly because of something that Billie did. After a night of drunkenness and forgotten sex with a stranger, Billie decides to take revenge on the flamboyant, wealthy, lying doctor at the centre of the court case and her dismissal. Billie, who is not who she appears to be at first glance, is determined to stop another girl from being Doctor’s Grange’s next victim, by becoming the next girl, but this is more dangerous than she realises, especially when events take a dramatic turn.
This is a brisk, witty tale with a very modern feel to it. Billie is a slightly edgy, but engaging character, who is jaded from past experiences in her life. She is not, however, as innocent as she appears and as her story unfolds a darker side to Billie gradually emerges. Her narration is cynical, but honest, and her reflections on life are witty, razor sharp, very knowing and full of cultural references:
“Because honest-to-god, he looks just like Eric off True Blood. If you don’t know who that is, please quickly google so you can see my moral dilemma. Otherwise, just think: hot.”
Pip keeps the reader engaged and on-edge during the book’s first half, with unexpected revelations and surprising turns, before ramping up the tension and the suspense at the midpoint with a neat twist. The second half is brisker and more exciting, and Pip once more demonstrates her ability to lay false clues and keep the reader guessing as to where the book is going.
As with Pip’s earlier books, The Next Girl is packaged to appeal to the Netflix generation with brief chapters, frequent references to popular culture, a preoccupation with modern technology, non-committal sex and a bright, perky tone. The modern feel of the book is also helped by Billie’s narration and her contemporary take on everything. Despite Billie’s willingness to take chances and break laws, she is an engaging ‘everygirl’, with her owns fears and ghosts.
In all, it is a smooth, enjoyable read that builds to a very tense and surprising ending.
I am planning on moving away from the star rating system in the new year, but I would give The Next Girl a strong four out of five stars. It would also make a great Christmas present or holiday read this summer!
The Next Girl is released in Australia on 30 November 2022 and on Audible and Kindle in the United States on
29 November 2022. There does not appear to be any release dates scheduled for the United Kingdom yet.
Here is a link to my review of The Strangers We Know: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/the-strangers-we-know-by-pip-drysdale-simon-schuster/