Alice Feeney’s psychological thriller “Rock Paper Scissors” is full of twists and turns right up until the novel’s conclusion. Mr. and Mrs. Wright are unhappily married. Adam is a screenwriter who is happier working than spending time with his wife. He also lives with a certain neurological glitch that causes face blindness; Amelia is tired of being unseen.
When the couple wins a weekend away in Scotland, it might just be what they need to repair their marriage. Each secretly believes that the outcome of this getaway will either make or break their marriage. Only this couple did not randomly win the trip and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.
The atmosphere in the book is chilly, both figuratively and literally. The story is set in a small snowy town in Scotland. A freezing, barely converted church with mysteriously locked rooms and malfunctioning electricity is the couple’s destination. The property also comes with a mysterious caretaker who seems to be spying on the Wrights. Adam and Amelia might be heading off to a weekend getaway to celebrate their anniversary, but the troubles in their marriage are at a breaking point and their biting comments to one another contribute to the iciness of the novel.
Lies and secrets are ever-present in this story. Each character is deceptive and concealing and secret.
“There are forests less shady than my wife.” (Page 94, Feeney)
Told in multiple points of view, each narrator has a different plan for the weekend, and neither fully trusts the other. The disinformation is interesting, but far more intriguing are the reasons they lie. Adam is a professional storyteller, but the narratives, some false and some true, that each character weaves move the plot forward and keep the reader guessing.
The past plagues the characters in this book. We get snapshots of the past in the form of letters that Mrs. Wright pens to her husband on each of their anniversaries, but never gives to him.
“We weren’t always the people we are now, but our memories of the past can make liars of us all.” (Page 2, Feeney)
Each anniversary letter summarizes the year that they’ve had within their decade of marriage. The reader gets a front row seat for the ups and downs in their marriage. Since their future is hinged on this weekend, they must decide if the marriage is suffering from yet another low point or have the Wrights changed totally from the people they were when they married?
Marriage isn’t the only relationship that gets examined in “Rock Paper Scissors.” The complicated dynamics of the parent/child relationship get put on display in this book.
“Nothing I did as a child was ever good enough. We are our parents’ echoes and sometimes they don’t like what they hear.” (Page 262, Feeney)
The characters had challenging childhoods that continue to tangle their relationships in the present. The distrust each of the characters has originates from somewhere. Their brokenness began before they were ever married. Multi-faceted and complicated, the Wrights continue to struggle with the past while trying to decide their future.
“Rock Paper Scissors” delivers twists and turns that keep the reader intrigued, which can only be accomplished by an author like Feeney who masterfully plots out a story. The chapters are short and the point of view changes with each one, keeping the reader engaged and guessing throughout the novel. Just when the reader thinks they can anticipate what will happen next, new information will make you question everything you thought you already knew. With a gothic, atmospheric setting and gasp-worthy surprises, “Rock Paper Scissors” will have readers turning pages deep into the night.
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