One of the best things about the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime writing festival is the amount of books by new authors that are given out. One of the treasures in the goody bag this year was You by Caroline Kepnes the paperback of which is released in October (I can’t deny there is something very exciting about being able to read a book that isn’t yet available to the general public)
As the title page states this is a novel of dark obsession. Joe works in a small independent bookshop in New York. He started working there as a child for the mysterious now absent Mr Malooney. Joe meets Beck, an aspiring writer living in a bed sit who makes the mistake of walking into Joe’s bookshop and requesting a book by his favourite author.
Taking this as a sign that they are destined to be together he becomes obsessed with her, and believing that she also likes him he starts stalking her. He tracks down her friends and uses the wonders of the internet to follow her every move, even going so far as to remove anyone he thinks might get in their way.
I thought this was a fantastic story. It is all told from the viewpoint of Joe, which gives the whole thing a creepy edge. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to say I understand him, you can see how he interprets things to fit in with his own warped sense of relationships.
This book reminded me of the Dexter novels, where you know that you shouldn’t really like the character but actually I did feel a bit sorry for him. Beck rather than just being portrayed as an weak little victim is a manipulative unpleasant woman. I couldn’t warm to any of the other characters in the book either, but that’s obviously how it’s meant to be as you only know anything from Joe’s point of view and he clearly dislikes anyone who gets in his way.
I liked the way that although there are crimes committed in addition to the stalking, these are almost glossed over. To Joe these were just necessary actions to further his main goal and if you skim read fast enough you’d almost miss them.
Overall I thought this was a great book that I couldn’t put down and would recommend it to anyone who likes crime but fancies a bit of light relief.