Looker by Laura Sims
Published: January 8, 2019
Genres: literary fiction, suspense
Rating: 4 stars
Recommend to fans of: interesting character studies, messed up people losing control of their life
Foodie Vibes: an orzo, feta, watermelon salad to impress your neighbor and wine to drown your sorrows
A dazzling, razor-sharp debut novel about a woman whose obsession with the beautiful actress on her block drives her to the edge.
I’ve never crossed their little fenced-in garden, of course. I stand on the sidewalk in front of the fern-and-ivy-filled planter that hangs from the fence—placed there as a sort of screen, I’m sure—and have a direct line of view into the kitchen at night. I’m grateful they’ve never thought to install blinds. That’s how confident they are. No one would dare stand in front of our house and watch us, they think. And they’re probably right: except for me.
In this taut and thrilling debut, an unraveling woman, unhappily childless and recently separated, becomes fixated on her neighbor—the actress. The unnamed narrator can’t help noticing with wry irony that, though she and the actress live just a few doors apart, a chasm of professional success and personal fulfillment lies between them. The actress, a celebrity with her face on the side of every bus, shares a gleaming brownstone with her handsome husband and their three adorable children, while the narrator, working in a dead-end job, lives in a run-down, three-story walk-up with her ex-husband’s cat.
When an interaction with the actress at the annual block party takes a disastrous turn, what began as an innocent preoccupation spirals quickly, and lethally, into a frightening and irretrievable madness. Searing and darkly witty, Looker is enormously entertaining—at once a propulsive Hitchcockian thriller and a fearlessly original portrait of the perils of envy.
Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner, and Laura Sims for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.
Looker is the tale of a sad, obsessed lady. I would consider the book more of a character study in the literary fiction genre with some aspects of suspense. The main character is obsessed with her neighbor, who is an actress. Most of her day is spent daydreaming about scenarios involving the actress. One of the great but also frustrating aspects of the book is the inability to determine what is real and what is a daydream until after the event possibly occurs. There are a thousand reasons why I don’t like the main character, which usually means that I will dislike the book. However, I ended up absolutely fascinated by the story.
The downsides: there are many inappropriate sexual fantasies … and realities. Also she’s a terrible pet owner.
Trigger Warning (and also SPOILER ALERT, but I wish someone had told me this before reading): death of a pet by murder. This deeply upset me
Overall, a horrifying yet fascinating read.
Bookish Question: If you strongly dislike a character, do you stop reading the book?
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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)