I love psychological thrillers, and psychological thrillers with the domestic bliss (or the lack thereof) trope usually make it to my favorites list. True to form, ‘The Golden Couple’, that takes you through the bittersweet and sometimes dark and tumultuous moments of a relationship, is now one of my favorite thrillers.
Combine a dysfunctional marriage with wealthy suburban life, the need to keep a picture-perfect facade, and a very questionable therapist, and you get yourself a psychological thriller based on domestic bliss (misery, to be precise). The entire time I was reading it, I was second guessing who’s right or wrong, who’s the antagonist, and what made things turn sour, and if the problems are solvable at all. So if you’re ready for the twists and turns of a messy marriage and even messier attempts to salvage it, come say hello to the Bishops!
- Author – Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
- Genre/Sub-genre – Thriller, fiction, mystery, mystery thriller, suspense, adult, contemporary, psychological thriller, adult fiction
- Content warnings – Infidelity, euthanasia, cancer, death of a friend, death of a spouse, murder, attempted murder, gun violence, stalking
- Type – Standalone
- No. of pages – 329
- Goodreads rating – 3.99
- Spice meter – No spice
‘The Golden Couple’ Plot Summary
Underneath the picture-perfect relationship of Marissa and Matthew Bishop lies a troubled home curtained by a lack of intimacy and understanding. To make matters worse, Marissa has just been unfaithful. She, however, is desperate to repair things for the sake of their son and for the love she has for her husband – that’s where Avery Chambers comes in.
Despite having lost her therapist license because of her unorthodox methods, clients still seek Avery’s experience and unique skills to help them in times of crisis. The Bishops meet Avery and after Marissa’s infidelity comes to light, the three set on a course to save the Bishops’ marriage. But the biggest secrets are yet to surface and as the web of betrayals, lies, and secrets grows bigger and more outrageous, even the unconventional therapist might not be able to keep up.
‘The Golden Couple’ Book Review
‘The Golden Couple’ opens with an excerpt from a magazine article about Avery Chambers, calling her “D.C.’s Maverick Therapist” for changing lives with her “unique brand of intensive short-term counseling” that “always starts with The Confession.” Intrigued, I quickly read the first chapter written from Avery’s POV to find out how this confession – of Marissa’s infidelity – comes about. With the truth out in the open as the Bishops meet Avery, some explosive emotions take the floor, piquing Avery’s interest (as well as mine). Her observations, suspicions, and the detective-like analysis of the Bishops’ demeanor instantly got me liking her character despite my unease about a therapist who lost her license.
Avery’s character turned out to be one of the main reasons this book got such a high rating from me because I realized as I read along that she embodies ‘good chaos’ of a quiet rebel – the kind I like – so well. I loved that she’s capable; her first person POV gave me an intimate look into her mind and before long, I could practically see her mental checklist as she went about tracking the Bishops’ problems and weighing solutions left and right.
The authors also did a great job explaining Avery’s motivations through her backstory. She’s a character with hardened edges, but towards the end of the book, it broke my heart when Avery described her personal grief:
“Grief isn’t linear. It isn’t logical. There’s no structure or civility to it; it grabs you when you least expect it and digs in its nails until you succumb.” – Avery Chambers, Chapter 44
I won’t say more here because I want you to feel the surprise of that revelation (which comes pretty early on in the story) but her unique insight into love and loss has an explanation, folks.
Another reason why I liked this book so much was the ‘everyday-ness’ of our golden couple. At first I felt like the Bishops could be the generic wealthy couple with rich-people problems, but as the secrets started to become dangerous, I realized that you never truly know what goes on behind closed doors. I think the authors intentionally (and very cleverly) highlighted the Bishops’ ordinary problems against the dark shadows of something sinister, because twists were due in the story:
“You can never truly know what is inside another person’s heart or head.” – Marissa Bishops, Chapter 39
Hendricks and Pekkanen also show us what a person would feel about having to share the intimacies and intricacies of their relationship with a third party through Marissa’s character. She’s a woman desperately attempting to hold on to the facade of the ‘golden couple,’ even as her struggles become increasingly obvious to those around her. Her POV depicts the discomfort the Bishops go through in front of Avery and I really felt for her when she struggled with shame and self-consciousness of having to air her dirty laundry.
In contrast to Marissa’s POV, Avery’s narration is self-assured with a touch of curiosity – at first. Starting out, we see Avery calm and collected when confronted with the Bishops’ problems, confident that her ten-session therapy method would work on the pair too – to either give their marriage a second chance or to part for the betterment of each other. But with each passing chapter, the secrets just kept getting more convoluted and Avery, the unconventional therapist who has never balked at her clients’ issues, finds herself unsettled and unsure of her ability to help the Bishops. These alternative POVs between Avery, the onlooker, and Marissa, the subject herself, gave me a great outlook on both sides of the coin, making me go through chagrined uncertainty in one chapter and second-hand embarrassment in the next.
This depiction of the Bishops as ‘normal and perfect’ also meant that I got jumpscares when the story caught me off guard. The authors are a sneaky pair because they had me concerned and hooked on the Bishops’ obvious problems that I didn’t see the twists coming – the hallmark of any good domestic thriller.
“One percent of the population is composed of psychopaths, and most of them aren’t the homicidal criminals we envision. We’ve all encountered them: people who seem charming and charismatic, but who lie without remorse and manipulate and deceive. And female psychopaths can be particularly adept at manipulation.” – Avery Chambers, Chapter 27
The question of who’s who made me want to swallow the book whole so I’d get my answers immediately because Hendricks and Pekkanen did a great job weaving the story, keeping me hooked on the danger and mystery and making me crave for answers. So yes, the plot was turning out to be sinister, but the intrigue of the mystery kept me going until I finished the book in one sitting.
One thing I didn’t like about the story was Marissa’s character – her vibes were irritating to say the least. At first I didn’t know what to feel about her but when I realized she’s mostly passive, waiting for things to happen to her, it made me feel like the authors did a lazy job with such an important narrator. I would’ve liked to see her as a smarter woman, more actively involved in the going-ons inside her own home.
Despite my irritation with Marissa’s character though, reading about the Bishops made me feel like it could’ve genuinely just been every other couple I know, which made this story very relatable and extra creepy. So if you want a bone-chilling mystery set against a calm, wealthy background, all witnessed by an unconventional therapist, ‘The Golden Couple’ should go straight to your TBR. Heads up though, get ready to lose some sleep over lies, facades, and betrayals in the familiarity of a home.
What I Liked Most About ‘The Golden Couple’
I loved the suspenseful, unpredictable plot that depicted the dysfunctional aspects of a domestic relationship. It was a riveting read that unraveled the facade of perfection and brought out the ugliness of the ‘golden couple,’ not unlike some IRL couples who continue to be in dysfunctional relationships.
Also, and I cannot stress this enough, I LOVED Avery’s character, mostly because she’s chaotic. She’s curious, reckless, smart, and plays the roles of both detective and therapist with her clients to get to the bottom of things. Although her character is not professionally acceptable, she’s the one that got me racing through the book as she uncovered one secret after the other.
Who Should Read ‘The Golden Couple’
If you enjoy psychological thrillers, especially those centered around themes of domesticity, suburban life, and contemporary lifestyles, you would love ‘The Golden Couple’.
If you’ve read The Wife Between Us by the same author duo, ‘The Golden Couple’ is a must-read.
Other Books Like ‘The Golden Couple’
If you loved ‘The Golden Couple’ and want to read similar books, here are some recs to check out!
‘All Good People Here’ is about a journalist trying to connect a murder that happened 25 years ago to a kidnapping that happens in the present and like ‘The Golden Couple’, this book deals with familial issues and long-buried secrets. Check out my review of All Good People Here!
‘Gone Girl’ is another fantastic and very popular read about a chilling intimate relationship, depicting how manipulation and lies can have life or death consequences.
If you’re up for some suburban thrillers with a lot of twists, my list of best Harlan Coben books might have a few recommendations for you.
The Golden Couple is a domestic thriller centered around a couple whose relationship is built on an avalanche of lies that threatens to collapse when confronted with the unorthodox therapist Avery. It’s a fast-paced drama that’ll have you quickly turning the pages to get to the bottom of the matter while suspecting nearly every character of psychopathy.
If you’re on the hunt for a good domestic thriller that explores the dangerously gray areas of interpersonal relationships, don’t think twice about picking up ‘The Golden Couple’.
Wealthy suburban couple Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem to have it all, but their relationship has a dark storm brewing beneath it. Marissa has been unfaithful and is desperate to come clean with her husband in order to repair things for the sake of their family. She seeks the help of Avery Chambers, an unlicensed therapist known for her unconventional methods but Avery quickly discovers that Marissa’s infidelity doesn’t seem to be the only problem in the Bishops’ marriage.
No. ‘The Golden Couple’ is a stand-alone novel about a wealthy suburban couple’s marriage and does not continue into a series. However, book 2 of The Samantha Project Series’ goes by the same name, ‘The Golden Couple’.
The main characters in the book are Marissa and Matthew Bishop, and their therapist Avery Chambers, their friend Skip, and Marissa’s assistant Polly. Other characters include the Bishops’ son Bennett, real estate agent and Matthew’s ex Natalie, and Matthew’s father Chris.
‘The Golden Couple’ book is 329 pages long.