Please See Us is filled with so many sad and broken people that my heart aches. The setting is perfect – Atlantic City. A place that has seen hard times and keeps getting beaten up yet strives for better days. In addition to people seeking fun and a quick payday at the casinos, Atlantic City attracts people who have tragic lives and exist on the fringes of society.
The main characters in this dark book are Clara (not her real name) Voyant – a 16-year old who lives with her drug-addicted, prostitute aunt. They work together as fortune tellers, con artists and thieves. Always seeking ways to pay the rent, her aunt has also started peddling her out to male visitors. Lily Louten has returned to her hometown to escape a bad relationship in New York City. She is well educated and had been on the path to an exciting career but is now back in Atlantic City working at a menial job in a casino spa.
We learn that someone is killing women and disposing their bodies in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel. Clara, it turns out, truly has psychic abilities and starts to have visions of the women. She and Lily team up to try and learn more about the missing women and also to help one another. The book gives each of the six victims a voice and we learn about their back stories. One more tragic than the next. We also learn about Luis Silver, the one tragic man in the story. He is a deaf-mute who has experienced way too much abuse. He strives to find ways to communicate what he sees. And he sees a lot.
So, clearly this is not a fun book. But it is highly engaging as you start to care about each of the characters. If you’re in a dark place or prefer not to read about abuse against women, you may not want to read this one. But if you are interested in a well developed character study that will keep you reading, you may want to give Please See Us a try.
And the fact that this is author Caitlin Mullen’s debut effort is worth mentioning. Impressive. Will look out for her next book.
Rated 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Mystery / Thriller.
Published on March 3, 2020.
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