Thursday, August 2, 2018

Read Me

Read Me by Leo Benedictus
Grand Central Publishing: 8/7/18
eBook review copy; 256 pages
ISBN-13: 978153871147

Read Me by Leo Benedictus is a so-so novel of suspense featuring a creepy stalker.

An unnamed narrator receives an inherited fortune and decides to now use his time refining his hobby: stalking random people. He keeps notes and records of his subjects and, at first, switched to different subjects after a short period of time. His rule was to never become personally involved, until he met Frances. Frances is a beautiful young woman working for a consulting firm. Soon it becomes clear that our stalker is disrupting and manipulating events in her life, causing her harm and psychological distress. He is also dealing out punishment on Frances's behalf to those he believe deserve it.

The opening scene in the novel will clue you in that something is off with the narrator. He is a nobody and there is no real sense of a personality except evidence will hint to the fact that all is not right with him. His account of what he does is presented in a bland, matter-of-fact way, and he seems alternately awkward and insipid. However, normal people don't stalk others, become obsessed and monitor their subjects, keep notes on them, or set up cameras and microphones to spy on them. There is no true clue why the stalker chose Frances either.

Right at the start the long-winded discourses and philosophical digressions are monotonous and slow the novel down. I felt like I was slogging through this novel trying to get through it, especially in the first third, when I expect an author to hook me into the premise of the story. While the premise seems promising from the description, the switch between first, second, and highly subjective third person point-of-views makes the narrative feel muddled. (Adding to this encumbrance is the use of the past, present, and future tense.) For me the novel fell flat.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of
Grand Central Publishing via Netgalley.

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