Tag Archives: Psychological Thriller

Stalker Stalked by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Picture the scene, if you will, of a book reviewer hooked up to a dialysis machine for three hours reading a book with a modicum of privacy (a curtain just about pulled over–not all the way, because the nurses like to see their patients to make sure nothing is going wrong. Imagine said reviewer reading a book that grows more intense with every passing chapter; so intense, in fact, that my blood pressure readings and heart rate rise by such an extent, the machine sets off an alarm that has the nurses come check in on you. Now imagine, if you will, that the reviewer is me, and the aforementioned book is Stalker Stalked, by New York City writer Lee Matthew Goldberg.

I could leave my review at that and go on my merry way and read something a little more soothing, but I have a job to do. And I’ll start by saying I used to watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with my mother when she was glued to the show on the evenings I visited. (She was also a big fan of Alaska: The Last Frontier, but I confess a fondness for the families in this particular show.) Eventually she moved on to other shows and that was that. Unlike the main character of Goldberg’s compelling psychological thriller, Lexi Mazur (now there’s a name destined for reality television), my mother was able to distinguish what was real and what wasn’t.

Lexi is a mess, poor woman. She pops pills to cope with the emptiness of her life, mixing them with copious amounts of alcohol, while at the same time barely holding down a job as a rep for a pharmaceutical company. Her love life is one tragic break-up after another, and the only solace she has, apart from her drugs of choice and her cat Sammi, are her reality TV shows. Lately she’s addicted to a new show called Socialites, spearheaded by a Vanderpump wannabe Magnolia Artois, who’s as dislikeable person in real life as she appears on her show. But that doesn’t put Lexi off: she wants to be in Magnolia’s life to such an extent that she uses all her dubious skills to finagle a meeting in a chic restaurant where the show is filming. Things get very messy from then on.

Another thing we need to know about Lexi is that because of a highly dysfunctional and abusive relationship with her mother, she is a deeply traumatised woman. Her previous relationships ended, badly, when her boyfriends couldn’t put up with her incessant stalking, whether following them to work or checking their emails or texts. Lexi of course would deny everything (addicts rarely face the truth about themselves until a metaphorical gun is pointed to their heads), leading to a break-up and a sustained period of substance misuse. Her one friend Pria, who harbours a secret crush on Lexi, is powerless to protect her from her worst tendencies. And to make matters even worse, Lexi appears to be the victim of a stalker herself. There are any number of suspects: her ex-boyfriends; Magnolia; or even the friendly detective who takes up her case. I did say things get messy, right?

I will admit to being sympathetic towards Lexi, despite her being not a very nice or good person. Addiction takes on many forms and can affect each addict differently. Being a former abuser of alcohol (I’m sober over fourteen years now), I can relate to the destructive behaviour addictive patterns can wreak upon the lives of the addict and those who care for them. Although even on my worst days, I wouldn’t dream of doing a fifth of the things Lexi gets up to, the addicted brain can lead us down some very dark paths. I got out before things got so bad I lost everything. I think this is why reading Stalker Stalked affected me the way it did. Readers who don’t know too much about addiction, only what they see on TV, etc., may find some of the situations Lexi creates far-fetched or contrived, but addiction can and does cause a lot of situations the unaddicted would find ridiculous.

Lee Matthew Goldberg has written a fast and furious novel, one I read with one hand over my mouth, gasping for breath, and hoping against hope that Lexi would turn out okay. She may yet still, despite how Goldberg ends Stalker Stalked. It hit home to me, but then addicts know one another, and I always wish them well, no matter the circumstances.

Author Lee Matthew Goldberg

Silvers Hollow by Patrick R. Delaney

Any time I don’t have a watch on my wrist, I am conscious of its absence. It’s a lot simpler to look at my watch than it is to reach for my phone and get the time from there. I’ve always worn a watch and I feel close to naked if I am, for whatever reason, not wearing one. I suppose I’m like most people in that I need to know what time it is, what day it is, and–in these pandemic times–what month it is. So imagine waking up one day with no recollection of any of these mundane facts. That would be scary, right?

The main character in Patrick R. Delaney‘s latest novel, Silvers Hollow, faces such a bizarre and disconcerting situation. She is anonymous to the reader, remaining unnamed throughout the book, and despite having some memories, she is practically anonymous to herself. The premise is a simple one, if deceptively so. A woman wakes up on the platform of a deserted train station, with the train she may or may not have been on pulling away. She has no memory of how she got there, or where she is–or what time it is. Leaving the station she meets the first of the supporting characters that drift in and out of the narrative. The woman finds herself in the back of Officer Smith’s ancient police car, and he takes her on a strange and meandering journey through what seems to be her childhood town of Silvers Hollow.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used it be, the saying goes, and this particular trip down memory lane is anything but comforting. Delaney’s main character is put through the wringer, emotionally and physically. Silvers Hollow itself seems stuck in time, with none of the modern amenities you would see and take for granted today. And it’s always dark. The story, as it unfolds, leaves the reader and the woman without any light at all. There is a reason for this, but you need to stick the course to find out. Meanwhile, the woman has to contend with the mystery of why she is where she is, and what, if anything, her family has to do with her predicament.

The people she meets on her journey are equally as scared, but of what, they can’t or won’t say. This adds to the sense of menace and dread that permeates the book. Delaney’s decision to allow the reader to follow closely beside his main character is an excellent one. All throughout the book I felt the same things the woman felt. It was like being a companion to someone else’s dream, and it wasnt a comfortable experience at all. But I kept reading because, like the woman, I wanted answers.

Patrick Delaney (source: Goodreads)

Silvers Hollow makes full use of its brief running time, coming in a couple of pages shy of 190. But don’t let its brevity fool you: there’s a lot going on here, and nothing is what it seems. Patrick R. Delaney has crafted a well-written, atmospheric, psychological horror story. The end is both dystopian and apocalyptic, and you’ll never ever want to have a dream like it.

NetGalley and the publishers of Silvers Hollow provided me with an ARC in return for an honest review. I thank them for the opportunity. The book will be published June 1, 2021, and is available to pre-order.