Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen, 3 Stars

What if the dead could talk? I think there’s a TV show that focuses on this. Which TV show, does anyone know? I’m thinking CSI. But it’s been a while since that one was on. You know, the old school one with William Petersen and Marg Helenburger? I miss that show!

But still, it’s an intriguing idea. So often we hear about serial killers that targeted women (yes, unfortunately it’s almost always women) for years. And no one knew who it was. But the bodies added up. And you wonder, where did these women come from? Because even if they were prostitutes or runaways, someone loves them. They are someone’s daughter, sister, girlfriend, wife or mother. And they mattered.

This is the premise for Caitlin Mullen’s Please See Us.

From the Publisher:

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. Can they break the ill-fated cycle, or will they join the other victims?

Evocative, eerie, and compelling, Please See Us is a fast-paced psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.

My Review

When we meet Lily and Clara, they are polar opposites. Seriously, as different as two girls could be. We have a girl abandoned by her family, raised by a friend of her mother’s who does not have her interests at heart. And Lily, an educated, up and coming face in the art world who left behind a blooming career in NYC galleries to work as a receptionist at a Atlantic City casino spa.

The only thing they have in common is that they are both making the best of life in Atlantic City, a town that has lost its luster from days past as famed casinos that seemed so promising in the 1960’s closed their doors in the past 10 years. Empty storefronts, fallen dreams. So dramatic, right?

We also meet the Jane Does at the beginning of the book. The women who were murdered and left behind the Sunset Motel. The murderer has a plan. For other women to join them. But first, we get to hear their stories.

The juxtaposition is interesting as we meet each woman who was a victim of the serial killer. And we wait to see if Lily and Clara will cross paths with the killer. It’s a very interesting premise.

Unfortunately, for me, the premise was amazing, but it fell a bit flat. I appreciated the stories from the women who had lost their lives, but I had a very hard time accepting Lily’s story. That she had given up her life and was working as a receptionist of all things in her hometown of Atlantic City. It just didn’t make sense to me how she had come to this point in her life.

I felt a little bit more connected to Clara, but overall, I just didn’t believe they were characters who were grounded in reality. And that made it a little hard for me to get through the book.

Special thanks to Gallery Books and Netgalley for an e-galley in exchange for my honest review. And if you don’t want to take my word for it (and why should you, books are like pizza-everyone has their own favorite!), this one releases March 3, 2020. Get your copy.

Indiebound

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