Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Book Author: David Ellis

LOOK CLOSER by David Ellis: Book Review

Look Closer is one of the most original mysteries I’ve read in some time.  The book’s jacket says it all:  “…absolutely nothing is what it seems.”

Simon is a respected law professor in Chicago.  When the novel opens he’s standing in the foyer of his lover’s house, looking at her body dangling from the second floor landing.  It’s Halloween, and she’s wearing a cat costume that’s all black, right down to the polish on her nails.  Simon, perhaps prophetically, is dressed as the Grim Reaper.

Five months before Halloween, on May 13 to be exact, Simon spots Lauren on a Chicago street corner.  She’s the girl he had a one-night stand with nineteen years earlier.  He hasn’t seen her since, but not a day has gone by since then without thinking of her.  But he’s determined to put that memory behind him and forget that he’s seen her again.

However, by July, the temptation has become too much to resist.  After following her obsessively on Facebook, he “accidentally” runs into her at the Grace Country Club where they are both members.  Simon never ever goes there–his exercise activity is jogging–but Lauren’s Facebook posts show her at the club playing tennis and golf and having lunch with friends.  So there he is, trying to play it cool when they meet but actually thrilled by Lauren’s suggestion of another meeting.  And then another.

Then we meet Vicky, Simon’s wife, who has her own secrets.  Simon is a very wealthy man, or he will be in a matter of months.  That’s when the trust ends that his late father made to ensure that the woman Simon married was not marrying him for the twenty million dollars he would inherit upon his father’s death.

The important clause in the trust states that the money is held solely in Simon’s name for ten years, during which time he could only spend it on himself, not on or for Vicky.  After the ten years, the money may be spent by either one on anything at all.  And the tenth anniversary, the all-important date, is just weeks away.

To make certain that everything goes the way she wants it, Vicky hires Christian Newsome, a financial adviser new to the Chicago area.  To double-check she has the facts correct, she asks him if after the trust ends on November 3rd she can spend the money any way she wants and without Simon’s approval or knowledge, and he tells her she’s correct.

Look Closer is written in four voices–Simon’s, Vicky’s, Christian’s, and Jane’s, a detective in the town’s police department.  The story goes back and forth between May and November 3rd, with the various speakers presenting the story from his or her point of view and knowledge.  Truly, just when you’re certain something will happen, it doesn’t, and when you’re certain something won’t happen, it does.

David Ellis has written a fascinating mystery, not only because of its unique plot but because of its characters.  You can read more about him at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.