Today is my stop on the blog tour for Stalker Stalked by Lee Matthew Goldberg, organised by Blackthorn Book Tours. I was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to both Blackthorn Book Tours and the author, Lee Matthew Goldberg.
Amazon link: http://mybook.to/StalkerStalked
Genre: Psychological thriller
Print length: 164 pages
Age range: This is an adult book but suitable for mature teenagers age 16+
Lexi Mazur is a depressed, alcoholic, pill-popper whose only joy has become her reality TV shows, often fantasizing that the people on TV are a part of her world. After her boyfriend Steve leaves her, she fixates on the show Socialitesand its star Magnolia Artois, following every facet of the girl’s life on social media in the hopes of befriending and becoming more like her.
But stalking isn’t new to Lexi. She ultimately won over her ex Steve by following and manipulating every minute detail about him so he’d fall for her. In fact, she landed her other ex-boyfriend Jeremy in the same way. Being a pharma rep, she’s used to manipulation to get doctors to buy her drugs, along with the perk of saving pills for herself.
But what happens when the stalker gets stalked?
Recently, Lexi has felt someone watching her: in her apartment in Queens, at her job. At first, she thinks her mind’s playing tricks, but the watcher is behaving just like she would. And soon they begin leaving threatening clues like she starts to do to Magnolia once her obsession grows more dangerous. Is it one of her exes out for revenge? Her only real friend from childhood who she’s always had an unhealthy rivalry? A detective who may have figured her out? The reality star Magnolia trying to turn the tables? Or even someone she might not know?
Lexi learns the only way to beat her stalker is to use her own stalking prowess to outsmart them at their own game. But has she finally met her match?
Praise for Lee Matthew Goldberg’s writing
“You feel yourself in the hands of a master storyteller and that feeling never lets up.” — SJ Rozan, best-selling author of PAPER SON”
“Lee Matthew Goldberg is an animal–there is no other way to say it. His prose is heavyweight ambitious, as visceral as a sweaty-toothed dog at your throat.” – Matt Phillips, author of Countdown and Know Me from Smoke
“A beautifully sinister novel filled with enough twists to give you whiplash.” –Jon Bassoff, author of Corrosion, a Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere nominee.
“Goldberg is a masterful storyteller, and this tale of jealousy and ambition is one that will stay with you long after you’re done. ” – Jennifer Close, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in White Dresses and The Smart One”
“Goldberg’s characters are well-formed, memorable and complex, adding humanity to a story that is sweeping in scale and remarkably focused.” — Alex Segura, acclaimed author of Blackout and Dangerous Ends
Stalker Stalked is a short psychological thriller written from the point of view of the main character, Lexi Mazur. She is an unpleasant pill-popping alcoholic who has been left by her boyfriend due to her stalker tendencies – checking his phone, following him, showing up at his workplace. She is obsessed with reality TV and one show in particular, Socialites, becomes her focus. Soon she is obsessed with main character, Magnolia Artois and learns everything she can about her from social media, enabling Lexi to stalk her both online and in real life.
She takes so many drugs that it isn’t clear when she starts to feel like she herself is being watched whether this is a delusion or something that is actually happening. Soon enough evidence of stalking starts to appear and she recognizes the tactics as being similar to her own.
Lexi is a pitiful, unlikeable character, but then we hear her backstory of her childhood with an uncaring single mother who would burn her hands with cigarettes and once slashed her leg with a shard of broken glass:
“alcohol made her restless and demonic”
“Mother made me this way”
A childhood filled with violent retaliation and child abuse has turned her into a twisted self indulgent wreck and it is difficult not to empathize. She goes on a voyage of self discovery during the last part of this book, having reached rock bottom, and manages to force herself onto a path of self improvement.
Magnolia is a vacuous rich girl, famous for being famous and an equally horrible person. The only pleasant female character in this story is Pria, Lexi’s childhood friend who has stuck by her through the years and worries about Lexi’s alcohol and pill consumption. Pria is described by Lexi as an unfashionable frump with frizzy hair. It made me wonder if the author has something against women, since the majority of the women he writes in this book are evil, manipulative witches.
Lexi’s relationship with Pria is a peculiar one. She cannot allow herself to be friendly and kind despite all the times Pria has been there when Lexi was at a low ebb. She can’t even thank her friend for her support:
“Okay,” I said. I was about to reply, thank you, but didn’t want to give her that power.
Lexi is scared she will end up like her Oxy addicted mother, stuck in her armchair watching TV all day and she seems well on the way to fulfilling that nightmare. Her career as a pharmaceutical rep gives her access to plenty of drugs and she has been stealing from the company for a long time. She is told by a doctor she sells to that Monolopin, her drug of choice could start to mess with her grip on reality:
“Research has shown a disassociation with reality after prolonged usage.” I crossed my legs, and his eyes lingered. “Like how?” “More like a detachment, a slow break from what’s actually happening.”
Pria tries to talk sense to her and tell her how talentless and vapid her idols really are. Her two ex-boyfriends have also tried to get through to her on this subject without success:
“Women are working to cure diseases. Stop hunger. Save the environment. These are heroines you should place on a pedestal, not some rich waste of space.”
Pria has no time for the reality TV stars Lexi wants to befriend and emulate. Her message makes a lot of sense and would seem to be the message of the novel to the reader. Stop spending so much time stalking people on social media and watching ridiculous tv shows and start having a real life. Lexi is thirty and it’s time she woke up to herself and started living her own life:
“They’re wasting time, it’s all a waste of time. This woman, this Socialite, has hoodwinked you like a cult leader would. You follow everything asinine thing she does ad nauseum instead of living your own life. It’s all a distraction. Quit the TV, quit the pills and booze, and get yourself together because I’m afraid of what will happen.”
Reality TV stars as modern day cult leaders is an interesting suggestion, and one a lot of us should probably consider, before we copy their looks, fashion, buy their endorsed products etc, etc, thereby filling their bank accounts.
Aside from the lack of likeable characters for the majority of the story, the story itself moves at a fairly fast pace and has many tense moments when Lexi thinks she is being watched or followed. There are some very mature sexual themes in this book and coarse descriptions of them, which readers should be aware of. I was pleased to see Lexi’s character develop in a positive way, and by the end of the book I might have even begun to like her a little bit. It is testament to the author’s writing skills that he is able to pull off such a transformation within a short number of pages.
About the Author
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY.
His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box.
His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests.
After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City.
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