In this sophisticated, suspenseful debut reminiscent of Laura Lippman and Chloe Benjamin, two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.
Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.
Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face. If they can put the pieces together in time, they may save another lost girl—so long as their efforts don’t attract perilous attention first. Can they break the ill-fated cycle, or will they join the other victims?
Evocative, eerie, and compelling, Please See Us is a fast-paced psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.
Please See Us has multiple points of view, little action, and an unsatisfying ending. This should equal a book that was not for me. But, I thought it was AMAZING. Strong, well-developed characters and a constant level of suspense created a story that I could not put down, even at 2 am. This novel is not your ordinary psychological thriller. It is a dark and gritty tale that is as haunting as any horror book.
The declining gambling Mecca of the east coast sets the perfect tone for this story, which is as much about a serial killer going unnoticed as it is about the marginalization of women. Pawnshops and slots parlors replaced resorts and oceanfront homes. The women, once killed, are left in the marshes. Decay is everywhere, and this setting effectively creates a feeling of despair that is pervasive.
Ava (Clara Voyant)
My favorite character – she is a teenage psychic who was left with her aunt while her mother goes off to California. She hasn’t heard from her mother in four years and longs for the day when she can save up enough money to take a bus out to California to be with her mother once again. She will do anything to make that happen.
Recently returned home to Atlantic City from New York City, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after it was shattered at an art exhibit of her boyfriend’s work. She takes a job at a local spa that struggles to attract clientele in this declining city.
Janes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
All of the victims share why they left home and ended up in Atlantic City. Their decaying bodies now sit in a marsh full of decay, just outside a city that is also in decay.
A special needs adult who’s deaf and mute, he had to learn ways to adapt in a society that marginalizes his life as much as they do women.
Please See Us is as haunting as the title implies. Tackling themes such as marginalization and harassment, the story moves along because of the suspense of whether or not the police will notice the dead bodies and catch the murderer.
What I Wish
I wish that the novel had a different ending. The story didn’t need it for the theme and message, but it did in order for it to be a more satisfying read for me.
To Read or Not to Read
This unique psychological thriller is a must-read for lovers of the genre.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
See my “About me” on my site.