Review: The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

This book has been high up on my TBR list for the better part of a year. I have been so excited to read it since I was part of the cover reveal last year and since then I received the coolest book package for this one and it only brought my eagerness to a fever pitch! One of the things that appealed to me so much about this one was its relevance and relatability especially for me as a mom.

Thanks to social media and over the top reality tv, the desire to create the ‘perfect photo op’ is at an all time high. When I had my son, I spent many a midnight hour scrolling mindlessly through Instagram and Facebook at all the perfectly curated baby boutique ads and of course all the tediously arranged and carefully coordinated nurseries and first birthday shoots. To be perfectly honest, I had a massive Pinterest board going for my son’s first birthday party before he was even six months old.

While I loved seeing all the perfect pictures of all the baby and family things, there was a large part of me that was aware that a snapshot isn’t a true picture of all going on. So, after reading this summary, I knew that I would find something I could relate to in some way. Plus I was eager to read a fresh new thriller!

Summary

Mary Dixie Carter’s The Photographer is a slyly observed, suspenseful story of envy and obsession, told in the mesmerizing, irresistible voice of a character who will make you doubt that seeing is ever believing.

WHEN PERFECT IMAGES

As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite: snapping photos of their children’s birthday parties, transforming images of stiff hugs and tearstained faces into visions of pure joy, and creating moments these parents long for.

ARE MADE OF BEAUTIFUL LIES

But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene―in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life.

THE TRUTH WILL BE EXPOSED

That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother, Amelia; finding chances to listen to her father, Fritz. Soon she’s bathing in the master bathtub, drinking their expensive wine, and eyeing the beautifully finished garden apartment in their townhouse. It seems she can never get close enough, until she discovers that photos aren’t all she can manipulate. (summary from Goodreads)

Review

Since this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, I had high expectations. This is the authors debut novel and as far as debuts go, it’s not bad! For me it ran a little on the short side (just under 300 pages) which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I would have liked a little bit more length to fully explore the characters and what makes them tick. There were times when I felt that the characters could have been more explored by readers if we really got into their minds rather than just their lives if that makes sense. I am not sure if fifty or so more pages would have made a difference or not, but I would have liked the opportunity to really dive into their psyche more than we did.

I did like how this one got it’s hooks into readers early on. I found myself eager to read and curious to find out what happens next. It had a great creepy vibe and was a disturbing novel. For the most part the book kept its pace but there was a time later in the book where I felt the momentum started to fade which is perhaps why it ended up being shorter. The mood and obsession in the book was really captivating and enjoyable though and it did hold my interest throughout. I liked the twists and the ending was satisfying if not slightly predictable.

Collectively this book had a lot of good points but there were things I had hoped would have been a little more developed so this one became a mixed bag of feelings for me. I did feel very conflicted about this one upon reflecting at the end. On one hand it was enjoyable and I liked how it generally moved along and held my interest, plus the obsessive vibe made it suspenseful. But on the other hand, I had a hard time understanding some of the characters choices and decisions which I think could have been rectified had there been a little more time for character development. When I pick up a psychological thriller, I expect there to be some serious character mental exploration—otherwise for me it’s just a thriller. All that said, I think fans of suspense and thrillers will enjoy this debut novel as it is really relevant in many ways, but if you are looking for a darker character driven novel you might feel a little disappointed.

Book Info and Rating

Format 288 pages, Hardcover

Published May 25, 2021 by Minotaur

ISBN9781250790330 (ISBN10: 1250790336)

Free review copy provided by publisher, Minotaur Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 3 stars

Genre: thriller, suspense

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