Just One Look
Author: Lindsay Cameron
Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 27, 2021)
Hardcover, 304 pages
Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul. Emails are.
Cassie Woodson is adrift. After suffering an epic tumble down the corporate ladder, Cassie finds the only way she can pay her bills is to take a thankless temp job reviewing correspondence for a large-scale fraud suit. The daily drudgery amplifies all that her life is lacking–love, friends, stability–and leaves her with too much time on her hands, which she spends fixating on the mistakes that brought her to this point.
While sorting through a relentless deluge of emails, something catches her eye: the tender (and totally private) exchanges between a partner at the firm, Forest Watts, and his enchanting wife, Annabelle. Cassie knows she shouldn’t read them. But it’s just one look. And once that door opens, she finds she can’t look away.
Every day, twenty floors below Forest’s corner office, Cassie dissects their emails from her dingy workstation. A few clicks of her mouse and she can see every adoring word they write to each other. By peeking into their apparently perfect life, Cassie finds renewed purpose and happiness, reveling in their penchant for vintage wines, morning juice presses, and lavish dinner parties thrown in their stately Westchester home. There are no secrets from her. Or so she thinks.
Her admiration quickly escalates into all-out mimicry, because she wants this life more than anything. Maybe if she plays make-believe long enough, it will become real for her. But when Cassie orchestrates a “chance” meeting with Forest in the real world and sees something that throws the state of his marriage into question, the fantasy she’s been carefully cultivating shatters. Suddenly, she doesn’t simply admire Annabelle–she wants to take her place. And she’s armed with the tools to make that happen.
I’m not normally a thriller reader, but one in a while a blurb draws me in and I pick one up. I was really interested by the description of this lowly temp getting a peek into the “perfect” lives of a perfect couple and basically going all Single White Female on them. Um, yes please.
I was surprised to read this in Cassie’s POV. I actually asked a friend if it’s normal in thrillers for them to be told from the POV of the “bad guy.” (Apparently the answer is “yes”!) It’s very creepy and disturbing to be inside Cassie’s head and sort of slowly realize more and more just how very disturbed she is. *shiver*
Towards the end of the book the story takes a kind of weird turn while Cassie’s, er, shall we say “investigative skills” are used in a different direction, that doesn’t feel entirely fluid or natural. But it also takes us to a place so surprising and just great that I added back the star I was going to knock off for feeling sort of shoe-horned in there a bit, haha. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil anything!
I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend for fans of stalker stories and also if you’re just starting to dip your toes into thrillers.
A digital ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.