Review: Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

cover of Rock Paper Scissors by Alice FeeneyRock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
Flatiron Books (September 7, 2021)
304 pages; $23.49 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Something’s very wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright.

Yeah, Alice Feeney went there. The troubled couple at the center of her new novel, Rock Paper Scissors, are the Wrights, Adam and Amelia. They’ve grabbed their dog Bob and headed to a remote chapel-turned-bread-and-breakfast in the Scottish Highlands, where they hope to spend a snowy weekend piecing their faltering marriage back together., If you’re guessing that the only thing that holds more secrets than the Wrights is a remote chapel in the Scottish Highlands, you’re absolutely Wright. Uh, “right.”

I’m told that misdirection is a trademark of Feeney’s work. This is my first time reading one of her novels, so I can’t vouch for the others, but misdirection doesn’t begin to cover it here. Rock Paper Scissors is built of short chapters, each one presenting one of three points-of-view: Adam, Amelia, and a late entry in the form of a mysterious woman named Robin. Feeney also frequently drops in letters written to Adam by his wife commemorating several of their anniversaries.

Every chapter — nearly every page — brings some new information, a revelation that changes the way the reader views the characters. It’s a credit to Feeney that these revelations remain impactful and meaningful, despite the fact that the reader will quickly begin regarding each new tidbit with suspicion.

I still haven’t mentioned the face blindness, or the stories of the chapel being cursed, or the world-famous horror author hiding in the wings. What I’ve told you is the bare minimum, and even that may be too much.

This is one of those books where the thrill comes in that first read, when it’s all a puzzle. Once solved, there’s not much point in revisiting it, so Rock Paper Scissors may not become a permanent part of your collection, but it’s an enjoyably engaging one-time read.

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