(I’ll give a clear warning before any spoilers begin!!)
Hey y’all! I finished the recent release Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney this week, a mystery with lots of secrets and various people scheming against each other. The ending was completely unsurprising because from early on I had a thought of what the “twist” would be, which proved correct. There were some clues along the way that backed me up, and I wanted to walk through a few of them as well as partially review the book itself altogether.
On a related note, I recently watched the 2004 movie The Village for the first time at my boyfriend’s excited suggestion. He fully expected it would blow my mind to discover towards the end (okay, spoiler for this 17 year old movie…) that it was not 1800s as the setting implied, but modern day with cars, medicine, wifi, and all that. So when he looked over at the reveal moment and I was just regularly watching, unfazed, he was pretty disappointed. 😅 Sorry love! But I think some of the reasons I saw that twist coming from VERY early on are the same reasons I nailed Rock Paper Scissors.
I’m not much of a detective, but I am an English major and voracious lifelong reader, so let’s put those skills to work!
So to recap the end of the book with all the revelations, the anniversary letters throughout written by Adam’s wife are not from his CURRENT wife, Amelia, but the previous wife, Robin. Amelia and Robin were friends until Amelia imitated Robin in order to steal Adam (and basically Robin’s whole lifestyle) away. Robin retreated to her reclusive father’s home in Scotland before he died — the same famous author whom Adam works for and idolizes. Robin anonymously lures Adam and Amelia to the remote location in order to get her revenge and either steal Adam back or, presumably, kill them both. She also reveals that Amelia is the woman who killed Adam’s mother in a hit and run — until Adam reveals at the end that it was actually him who was driving.
Option one — ROCK: You try to leave with the woman who killed your mother.
Option two — PAPER: You walk out of there alone and come find me and Bob in the cottage. We’re waiting for you, and I want nothing more than for us all to be together again.Rock Paper Scissors, p266, by Alice Feeney
Option three — SCISSORS: You don’t want to know option three.
WOW. There were a lot of reveals of varying sizes in the last quarter of the book, right up to the very last chapter and page! And yet very little of it shocked (or mattered to) me. Here are some of the little things that gave them away.
Which aspects did I predict?
- the main element, that Amelia was not the wife who had written the letters
- that the wife was the one who killed his mother (partially correct…)
- Adam would cheat on her with the excuse that he couldn’t recognize the person and thought it was her 😑
I didn’t get the following bits:
- the wife was the author’s daughter (not realized until it was pretty clearly bashed over the reader’s head in Robin’s flashbacks)
- Adam killed his mother (because that’s a convoluted addition)
What gave it away?
In chronological order from how early on I predicted the element:
Reading the book blurb – Adam cannot recognize people’s faces: When the premise includes someone who can’t recognize faces, there is DEFINITELY going to be a trick of identity in it. And if it’s a dude who can’t recognize faces, he is DEFINITELY going to cheat on his wife and say “I thought it was you! Because of my disability!” This one I figured before I had even opened the book. Additionally, this guarantees that there will be some mistaken or false identity in the book, because why else would this element be included?
Page 17 – personal letters are included in the book: big thanks / mild curses to Eric Brown, my professor who taught an unreliable narrators seminar among many other fascinating topics. Curses to Eric because now I am not surprised by books like this. 😅 Thanks to him, because that class taught me via Gone Girl, Pale Fire, and many others that if there is ever a “personal” text in a book, I should be suspicious immediately. I actually found and re-read my thesis on this recently after finishing Rock Paper Scissors, so it was fresh in my head too. The issue with these is that personal texts imply they are going to be honest and true and accurate. However, they’re in a novel, so the character can absolutely still manipulate and lie because their personal text IS going to be read by others (namely, us, the readers). It can get a little meta, but basically, suspect anyone writing a diary, memoir, letter, or anything else meant to be honest and personal.
Page 22 – the letters are always signed “your wife”: this truly was the thing that made it laughably obvious to me (at only the third chapter). A personal text AND it never includes the author’s actual name? I know what to expect there. The “wife” in the letter was definitely not the wife we heard from in the other chapters, Amelia. At this point, it was just a matter of tracking down how the letter wife connected to them.
Page 70 – the introduction of Robin: we meet a new narrative character named Robin, who appears to live near the chapel and maintain it, given the fact that she can open the doors. Getting a new named character means they have some significance in the story. It wasn’t such a leap at this point to think “ah, okay, here’s our letter wife.” Who else would be given such a large portion of room to tell the story?
Page 108 – Robin says she knows Adam and his history: Robin says early on in her chapters that she “recognized [Adam] as soon as he got out [of the car].” She thinks about his mother’s death and “wonders if he still has the nightmares.” It seems that currently only his wife Amelia knows of his nightmares. Who else would be that close? Well… maybe his other wife. Later on Robin also indicates that she knows Amelia (though I couldn’t find that exact quote). Regardless, murder and vengeance is usually by people somehow related, so Robin must be close to at least Adam, somehow. It wouldn’t be like “I’m your second cousin’s wife from that one funeral!” as the twist. 😂
Throughout – Adam and Amelia each suspect the other of knowing more about the chapel than they should if it’s their first time there: In their own narrated chapters, it’s clear that each suspects the other of setting up the location and genuinely does not know why the chapel looks like their house. Amelia is suspicious when Adam opens the cabinet with the wine glasses they were looking for on the first try. How did he know where they were? Adam constantly presses Amelia for details on how they “won” this free getaway. Her details are vague at best, and he’s not convinced everything is legit. Basically if either of them has scouted and set up this trip, they wouldn’t be suspecting the other of doing so.
What did I miss?
While going back through to get quotes and specific references, I did find some small lines that backed up some of the other reveals (Robin as the author’s daughter, Amelia as the friend who stole Adam, Adam killing his mother, etc). Things like Robin commenting on her mother and her spending time in that cottage. Like Adam saying “Saint Amelia cheated too” — but it was with him that she cheated, back when he was still with Robin.
I think I would actually like this book better on a second read to admire the little bits and pieces that reference the reveals at the end. Instead of reading to discover the main resolution to the mystery, I can read to enjoy the clever way hints were woven in. Hints that likely only have significance once you know what to look for.
How about y’all? Did you find any clues that totally went by me? Or were you able to enjoy the mystery and be shocked by the ending?
Featured photo credit to @myschedulesbooked on Instagram! Gorgeous!