In the interest of full disclosure, I must begin my review of Looker by Laura Sims by saying this: My feelings about this novel are likely influenced by misleading marketing.
All over the internet, Looker was billed as one of the next great “thrillers” and the best “mystery” of 2019. The one that finally got me was that Looker was one of Literary Hub’s “Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2019.”
This novel sounded right up my alley.
What I should have done, what we all should do, is find out in which categories the novel’s publisher (Simon and Schuster, in this case) has placed the title. Looker is correctly labeled as Literature & Fiction. Of course, you find this on the book’s Amazon page after reading the aforementioned Literary Hub distinction and three editorial reviews containing the word “thriller.”
This is all to say that I had no idea Looker was a piece of literary fiction until I was well into the narrative. My brain didn’t like this. There is ultimately a crime, and the entire narrative is about psychology and someone’s spiral, but it was not what any genre reader would consider a thriller or a crime read.
Another thing going against Looker: It was in many ways a different, better version of The Woman in the Window. If you don’t already know why any association with that novel might irk me, read this essay, then this one.
Notice, though, that I said Looker was better.
Looker was not heavy on plot, which was fine once I figured out it wasn’t supposed to be. But it was heavy on solid, sometimes wonderful, writing. It went deep into the psychology of a celebrity stalker and what personal conflicts might lead to it.
So, despite being a tad derivative and heinously mismarketed, I was happy I read Looker. For those who enjoy literary fiction and character studies, I would recommend Looker. For those who prefer solving mysteries and having their characters in mortal danger, don’t be fooled by those who’ve mislabeled this novel.