Joseph (Joe) Goldberg is a bookseller and manager of Mooney’s rare and new bookstore and he is a stalker, not that he would refer to himself in those terms, but be in no doubt, he is. The most recent object of his obsessive interest is Guinevere Beck who walked into his New York bookstore and peruses the books.
“You sneeze, loudly, and I imagine how loud you are when you climax.
“God bless you!” I call out. You giggle and holler back, you horny girl, “You too, buddy.” Buddy. You’re flirting and if I was the kind of asshole who Instagrams, I would photograph the F_K placard and filter the shit out of that baby and caption it: F-K yes, I found her.”
Having had a conversation about her book choices, Guinevere, or Beck as she likes to be called, gives Joe her name which he considers a cue to check out all her social media, visit her house and see if she has commented on him.
“But then I started to explore you and you don’t write about what really matters. You wouldn’t share me with your followers. Your online life is a variety show, so if anything, the fact that you didn’t put me in your stand-up act means that you covet me. Maybe even more than I realize…”
When Joe gets the opportunity to keep hold of her mobile phone he has full access to her life. Over the course of the story he intervenes when other people are taking up more of Beck’s time than necessary using all the tools at his disposal.
I love the way that books and pop culture are referenced in this novel and as a true sociopath Joe has both an inferiority complex whilst simultaneously thinking he is better than many of the people who cross his path, there is also plenty of wry humour to lighten this dark tale. I did find that I didn’t really care about Joe who was obsessed with Beck, or Beck who was obsessed with herself so whilst technically great it didn’t quite reach that point where I thought wow! The author did however manage to keep Joe’s character just the right side of obviously scary with some hints, although no detail, on what might have led him to this point. The main downside of this book was that it was eked out to the nth degree and so where the writing style kept my attention at the beginning it began to wear a bit thin in the last third where the opportunity to develop our knowledge of Beck was given but not taken
I enjoyed reading a book solely from the stalker’s perspective and I did enjoy the fine balance of humour to balance out the darkness although I did feel that we Beck’s character could have been given more depth.
Other recommended reading about stalking: