Perfectly Famous

"Perfectly Famous" by Emily Liebert. (Simon & Schuster/TNS)

“Perfectly Famous” by Emily Liebert; Gallery Books (320 pages, $16)

Obsession, fame and grief swirl in this fairly entertaining story about a bestselling author, who vanished from the public following the death of her teenage daughter, and the journalist who is determined to track her down.

Bestselling author Ward DeFleur is on the first night of her mega 15-city tour to promote her latest blockbuster when she gets word that her daughter, Stevie, has disappeared. When Stevie later dies, Ward goes off the grid, cutting off all ties with her agent, publisher and friends, dismantling emails and cellphones.

It’s been six months since Ward was heard from and Bree Bennett is fascinated by the story.

On the night of Stevie’s disappearance, Bree was one of the last fans to get Ward’s autograph and pose with the author. But that encounter meant even more because Bree who had been divorced only two days remembers breaking down into tears in front of Ward. Bree has never forgotten Ward’s kindness and compassionate conversation that occurred just moments before Ward was told about Stevie.

Now Bree is ready to start to work again as a journalist and wants to write about Ward for the Connecticut newspaper that has recently hired her. Such a story also could easily turn into a book. While finding Ward will test every journalist skill Bree has, the assignment also may not be the healthiest. Bree’s best friend, Maggie, a psychologist, worries that Bree’s obsession with the author is a way to avoid her own problems.

Miami author Emily Liebert keeps the plot churning, though “Perfectly Famous” doesn’t quite measure up to her 2019 bestseller, the psychological thriller “Pretty Revenge.”

The strong characterizations of Ward and Bree elevate the story, and the novel works best when the focus is on them. But Bree’s lack of parental skills weakens the plot since her way to deal with her rebellious teenage daughter, Chloe, is to be away from home. Possible romances for both Ward and Bree are another detriment since none of the men are intelligent or interesting and obviously have dark sides.

Still, the quick pacing of “Perfectly Famous” makes it quite suited as a proverbial beach book, kicking off a summer read.