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