I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (September 7, 2021)
Length: 10 hrs and 22 mins
Narrators: Richard Armitage, Stephanie Racine
I never need an excuse to pick up an audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage, let alone one by Alice Feeney. Rock Paper Scissors is the third novel I’ve read by the author, and there are several similarities in its structure and scope to her previous psychological thriller His & Hers, which also follows a couple with a long and complicated history in their relationship.
Adam and Amelia Wright are celebrating their ten-year anniversary with a trip to the Scottish Highlands, after Amelia won a free stay at an old converted chapel as a prize in a raffle at her work. With their marriage fraying at the seams, she’s hoping this weekend getaway will help them reconnect. A self-professed workaholic, screenwriter Adam isn’t exactly the easiest man to live with, and he also has a condition called prosopagnosia, or face blindness, which causes an inability to recognize faces, even those who are closest to him.
But although they are experiencing problems in their marriage now, apparently things hadn’t always been so bad. Interspersed between the chapters in the present are letters that Amelia had written to Adam that were never sent. Each year on their anniversary, the couple would exchange traditional gifts, and Amelia would also write a letter to her husband, filled with her private thoughts she never intended for him to read. These writings would eventually reveal that their early years were filled with happiness and love. So, what the heck happened?
Not to mention, things get a little hinky whenever the plot returns to Adam and Amelia in the Highlands, where the couple and their dog Bob have become stranded after a snowstorm. The isolated chapel has been fixed up to receive visitors, but it’s certainly not equipped to withstand such extreme conditions. Next, it turns out that Amelia had no idea how she had won the trip, telling Adam that she was notified out of the blue about her prize, after buying only a single raffle ticket. And then, Bob goes missing. Nothing is as it seems, and as the strange happenings and creepy oddities around them start to pile up, things aren’t looking too good for the Wrights to fix their marriage.
There’s also a third perspective character other than Adam and Amelia, but I will be leaving out the details on them so as not to accidentally reveal possible spoilers. The structure of this novel, as well as the back-and-forth between the POVs and Amelia’s letters truly made Rock Paper Scissors an edge-of-your-seat read for me. In a way, this book is a puzzle, and even though it takes a while for every piece to fall into place, when it does, the full picture will knock you off your feet. As you start to pick up on the clues and other things that don’t feel quite right, you also realize you can’t take anything shown to you at face value, and that none of the characters’ narratives can be trusted.
Adam’s prosopagnosia is also an interesting element, and funny enough, this is the second book I’ve encountered this summer with face blindness as a major part of its premise. I thought Feeney did a pretty good job tackling Adam’s condition, and through Amelia’s unsent letters over the years, we learn more about some of the challenges the two have had to deal with and overcome. Year after year though, we can also see the quality of their marriage degrade, and as readers we have front row seats to this spectacle as the secrets and lies are gradually revealed from both sides.
And obviously, I enjoyed the setting and atmosphere. After all, I make it no secret I’m a fan of horror and suspenseful stories set in snowy, remote places where the hapless characters might become stranded and helpless. Plus, there are perks to listening to thrillers in audio of course, and the sensation of deep immersion is certainly one of them, especially when you have great narrators in this case.
Speaking of which, I’ve already praised Richard Armitage, who never fails to deliver a stellar performance, but much kudos to Stephanie Racine as well for her fantastic job as co-narrator. From start to finish, my attention was held tightly by this tense thriller which revealed its secrets slowly but was never boring. Rock Paper Scissors was very enjoyable as an audiobook, and might be my favorite Alice Feeney novel so far.