Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
Published by Gallery Books on March 3, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
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?
I don’t know what I expected from Please See Us but it wasn’t what I read. We do get the thoughts and activities of the two young women, Lily and Clara. We also get several other points of view which helped tell the story. I didn’t remember from the blurb about the two young women so I didn’t start with paying special attention to them, although they had more voice in the story than most others. All the perspectives made it a little confusing initially.
Overall, Please See Us is a difficult read. It’s a well written story about those with few options who are overlooked and often mistreated in their daily lives. It applies to most of the women but also some men in the story. It is set in Atlantic City, NJ after many business failures with people left there.
Most of the characters were not very likable. All had made a bad choice or more made many bad decisions along the way. Some were prostitutes, thieves and / or drug addicts. I was surprised there was nothing about any police involvement or point of view.
Lily, who came home to her parents for the summer, after a break up, has a great education but is trying to decide what to do with her life. She is working a receptionist job. Clara, who didn’t finish high school, lives with her aunt, after being abandoned by her mother. She does readings with tarot cards and sometimes steals.
Lily and Clara become unlikely allies as they both get the sense of something being not right. Over the summer, both face difficulties and make tough decisions. I can’t say I liked either of them, or many of their choices, but they did grow on me. I felt badly for Clara who is under 18 and in a bad place but who would care? Even when Lily cared, there were limits to what she could do.
Those without power, no matter their social class, can have a rough time making good choices, especially if they isolate themselves from others who might help them or support them at least emotionally. Please See Us is a sad view of some harsh realities.
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