Read a review of Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen, our Mystery Book Club pick for October.
You can join us to discuss Please See Us on October 20 at 7 p.m. in the Program Room at Davis Library, or you can attend through Zoom! If you would like to attend the meeting virtually, please register here. We will have things set up so that virtual and in-person attendees will all be able to see and hear each other!
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
Description from Libby:
Winner of the 2021 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
In this “beautifully written, thoughtful page-turner” (Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists) from “the next big voice in crime fiction” (Susan Scarf Merrell, author of Shirley), 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.
“You won’t be able to stop turning the pages of this heartbreaking” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and compelling psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.
From Kirkus, January 2020
“In Atlantic City, the bodies of several women wait to be discovered and a young psychic begins having visions of terrible violence. They are known only as Janes 1 through 6, the women who have been strangled and left in the marsh behind the seedy Sunset Motel. They wait for someone to miss them, to find them. That someone might be Clara, a teenage dropout who works the Atlantic City strip as a psychic and occasionally has visions. She can tell there’s something dangerous at work, but she has other problems. To pay the rent, she begins selling her company, and then her body, to older men. One day she meets Lily, another young woman who’d escaped the depressing decay of Atlantic City for New York only to be betrayed by a man. She’s come back to AC because there’s nowhere else to go, and she spends her time working a dead-end job and drinking herself into oblivion. Together, Clara and Lily may be able to figure out the truth—but they will each lose something along the way. Mullen’s style is subtle, flowing; she switches the narrative voice with each chapter, giving us Clara and Lily but also each of the victims. At the heart of the novel lies the bitter observation that “Women get humiliated every day, in small stupid ways and in huge, disastrous ones.” Mullen writes about all the moments that women compromise themselves in the face of male desire and male power and how they learn to use sex as commerce because “men are always promised this, no matter who they are.” The other major character in the novel is Atlantic City itself: fading; falling to ruin; promising an old sort of glamour that no longer exists; swindling sad, lonely people out of their money. This backdrop is unexpected and well-rendered. A lyrical, incisive, and haunting debut.”
Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Caitlin Mullen earned a BA in English and Creative Writing from Colgate University, an MA in English from NYU, and an MFA in fiction from Stony Brook University. She has been the recipient of fellowships and residencies from the Saltonstall Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center. Please See Us is her debut novel.
From the author’s website
Read-alike titles available on Libby and through the PPL Catalog:
- The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
- The Widow by Carla Neggers
- The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James (ebook)
- The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda (ebook)
- Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar (ebook)
- The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (ebook, eAudiobook)
- A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (ebook, eAudiobook)
- Ocean State by Stewart O’Nan (ebook)