Review: Look Closer by David Ellis

Review: Look Closer by David EllisLook Closer by David Ellis
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: mystery, suspense, thriller
Pages: 448
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on July 5, 2022
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook DepositoryBookshop.org
Goodreads

From the bestselling and award-winning author comes a wickedly clever and fast-paced novel of greed, revenge, obsession--and quite possibly the perfect murder.
Simon and Vicky couldn't seem more normal: a wealthy Chicago couple, he a respected law professor, she an advocate for domestic violence victims. A stable, if unexciting marriage. But one thing's for sure ... absolutely nothing is what it seems. The pair are far from normal, and one of them just may be a killer.
When the body of a beautiful socialite is found hanging in a mansion in a nearby suburb, Simon and Vicky's secrets begin to unravel. A secret whirlwind affair. A twenty-million-dollar trust fund about to come due. A decades-long grudge and obsession with revenge. These are just a few of the lies that make up the complex web...and they will have devastating consequences. And while both Vicky and Simon are liars, just who exactly is conning who?
Part Gone Girl, part Strangers on a Train, Look Closer is a wild rollercoaster of a read that will have you questioning everything you think you know.

My Review:

It begins with a dead socialite hanging from the stair railing in her wealthy suburban Chicago home. And it begins from the perspective of the man who killed her, walking away from the scene of the crime, on Halloween night, in a Grim Reaper costume with no one the wiser.

From there, this twisty, turny, rollercoaster of a thriller is off to the races.

Because nothing and no one in this story is what they seem. Or even close to it. At all.

Except for the suburban police detective investigating her first murder in a tony suburb that has never seen murder before. A place where everyone expects police investigations to be wrapped up in 60 minutes like they do it on TV.

Detective Sergeant Jane Burke is investigating the case of a lifetime, the kind that will make her name and her career. And the more evidence she turns up, the more the whole thing looks like a slam-dunk. She has means, motive, opportunity and a suspect wrapped up in a nice neat bow.

Even better, a dead suspect, a con artist who got caught up in his own con and killed himself in his expensive condo when it all fell apart.

The case has been gift-wrapped so neatly that Jane can’t convince her superiors – or the village at large- that it’s all a frame and that there’s a puppet master hiding in the shadows pulling all the strings including her own.

After all, he’s done it before. And she can’t stand the fact that he might manage to do it again.

Escape Rating A+: Look Closer is a thriller about the ultimate long game, a game that is played on the reader every single bit as much as it is on the victims and on the detective stuck with the investigation.

Initially, we’re fooled along with everyone else. Socialite Lauren Betancourt is dead, and from the shifting narratives and time frames that make up the story, initially it seems very clear that her lover, Simon Dobias, killed her because she broke off their affair.

We know that nothing is quite as it seems – except for Lauren’s corpse – but what we discover over the course of the story is just how we, and every single person in the story – has been taken for one hell of a ride.

Saying anything else about the story itself is going to hit spoiler territory, and this is a story that deserves to be read without spoiling. Although I have to confess that about halfway through I tried thumbing to the end and the deception has so many corkscrews in it that reading to the end didn’t tell me much at all about how they finally got there – both the mystery and the narrative about the mystery.

The way that it’s written starts at the murder and then goes both backward and forward in time, frequently changing points of view as it goes. (Although I read this instead of listening to it let just say that there’s a reason that the audio had a full cast.)

So at first we know what happened – at least on the surface. As we go forward in time we see the detective investigating what happened and coming up with something she KNOWS is a frame but can’t prove is a frame with her boss and her whole town breathing down her neck for resolution.

As we see her doubts we start seeing the bits and pieces of what really happened, only to discover that what we thought was true was yet another frame embedded in one smokescreen on top of another. And even when we think we know, we don’t actually know much at all.

The way that this story worked – and does it ever! – reminded me more than a bit of Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon. Not only in the story itself but in the way that the reader ends up grudgingly admiring all the players involved in this elaborate game even though we KNOW they are not exactly on the side of the angels.

So if you enjoy thrillers that go through some extreme corkscrew turns before they slide headfirst into their wildly surprising conclusions, Look Closer is one hell of a pulse-pounding read.

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