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 by Caitlin Mullen delivered a suspenseful mystery set in Atlantic City long after the shine has tarnished and most casinos have closed their doors.
The story is told from different points of view; the bulk belongs to Clara, a teenage psychic who lives with her Aunt and reads tarot cards on boards. Thanks to her Aunts habits, she is also good at cons and theft as the landlord always knocking at the door. Clara however longs to find her mother and dreams of saving enough to head to west to find her.
The other main POV is that of Lily Louten. Lily left Jersey behind for the art world and dreamed of holding shows and managing up-and-coming artist until her world crashed. She is home, working at a spa and drinking a little too much.
Other perspectives belong to the killer, his victims and a mute and deaf man who works as a janitor where Lily works. Someone is murdering young women and laying them out in the marsh. Clara is having visions of them, and a chance encounter with Lily soon has the girls chatting, but both of their life styles put them in the killer’s path.
Having grew up in South Jersey I am familiar with the setting, and in fact visited the casinos when they were in their prime. I recently visited, and the author did a fantastic job of capturing the city, the economics and the chronic issues that plague the area.
Realistic, raw, and atmospheric with flawed character trying to eek out a living the tale shines a light on many of the hardships and struggles of economically depressed areas while pulling you into a suspenseful mystery.
The murders, the mystery of them and Clara’s visions combined with the POVs of the victims and their stories pulls you in. This does not lessen the suspensefulness of the tale. In fact, it wasn’t until the last few chapters that I held my breath.
Mullen weaves a solid tapestry. It is only when you close the book and look at the final picture he has created that you fully appreciate the tale.
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