Cover Image: Please See Us

Please See Us

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

"Please See Us" by Caitlin Mullen is a haunting debut that weaves a chilling narrative through the desolate backdrop of Atlantic City. The novel is a poignant exploration of the lives of two young women, Clara and Lily, who find themselves entangled in a series of mysterious disappearances, as well as other supporting characters.

Clara, a boardwalk psychic with a dwindling clientele, begins to experience visions that are disturbingly real and potentially connected to the missing women. Lily, reeling from personal tragedy and an ex-art gallery employee from Soho, finds herself working in a casino spa in the now-dilapidated city. Their paths cross, and together they delve into the darkness that lurks behind the neon lights.

Mullen's prose is atmospheric and evocative, capturing the essence of a city that's a shadow of its former self. The narrative shifts between the perspectives of Clara, Lily, and the victims, creating a tapestry of stories that are both individual and interconnected. The voices of the women in the marsh, referred to as Janes 1 through 6, are particularly powerful, offering a chorus of experiences and emotions that resonate long after the book is closed.

The author's portrayal of Atlantic City is a character in itself—fading, crumbling, and swindling the hopeful and the hopeless alike. Mullen deftly handles themes of female exploitation, resilience, and the grim realities that women face daily. The novel doesn't shy away from the harsh truths of society's underbelly, and the suspense is built more on the anticipation of revelations than on action-packed sequences.

"Please See Us" is a mystery that transcends its genre, offering a deep dive into the psyches of its characters and the environment that shapes them. It's a story about the forgotten and the lost, about the desperate search for meaning in a place that seems to have abandoned all hope. Mullen's debut is a testament to the strength found in vulnerability and the power of women reclaiming their narratives.

"Please See Us" is a compelling, thought-provoking read that will appeal to fans of psychological thrillers and literary fiction alike. It's a brutal book, a story that challenges and lingers, asking its readers to look beyond the surface and see the unseen..

Trigger Warning: Devastating and disturbing violence against women, including sexual abuse.

Please See Us will drag you through hell and back out the other side to a semblance of hope, for those who survive the journey.

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There is a serial killer on the loose in Atlantic City.

We know this because we are introduced to the Jane Does numbers 1 through 6 during the first part of the book, as they are killed and left in the marshland behind the Sunset Hotel. Only one person even knows they’re there, besides the killer.
That starts the ticking clock, although we’re unaware of it.

Two other young women meet in Atlantic City during this uneasy time.

One, Lily, is just there for the summer, working at a casino spa, hoping to make some money and recover from a bad experience in NYC where she worked at an art gallery, until leaving after her boyfriend reveals his new lover in his artwork during a public art exhibit.

The other, Clara, is a young girl with ‘sticky fingers’ who is working as a psychic on the Atlantic City boardwalk and trying to make enough money to pay the rent.

Neither woman knows that there is a killer loose, but, after a reading for a prostitute nicknamed Peaches, Clara begins to have disturbing visions, and suspects they could be related to recent cases of the women going missing in town.

When she meets Lily, who is working at a desolate casino spa, she becomes convinced that Lily can help her figure out who is appearing in her dreams; she just needs to find proof.

The two women find themselves unlikely allies. As they work together to find the truth, Clara and Lily become targets themselves.
The story is alternately narrated by Lily, Clara, the missing Jane Does, and Luis, a man working in Clara’s building. This keeps the pacing moving and each voice is unique.

Atlantic City, with its crime, drugs and prostitution, adds its profile to the story itself. Decay is everywhere (the women, once killed, are left in the marshes, after all, to rot in the summer heat). The tone effectively creates a feeling of despair that is pervasive throughout.

Mullen writes beautifully about the marginalized and invisible lives of her characters. In Caitlin Mullen’s hands, everyone has a voice, and the dead speak to us, weaving their way through the plot and theme of the book. This debut author introduced the living and the dead masterfully, by focusing, not on the depraved killer, but on the women whose lives he stole. They call to us to hear their stories. Hearing the murdered women speak about their current situations, what happened to them, and how they got here, in their own words was powerful. It added an emotional layer to the story, and put into stark perspective how poverty, abuse, gender, addiction, family connection and geography all become a heavier load than people can bear.

It’s a dark and unsettling story. Please See Us wasn’t a perfect read, but it was real, it was honest. And it was a fitting title.

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This haunting and evocative novel delves into the lives of two women whose fates become intertwined in the seedy underbelly of Atlantic City. The plot unfolds with gripping intensity, as Mullen skillfully weaves together multiple perspectives to create a tapestry of suspense and intrigue. Set against the backdrop of the city's bustling boardwalk and hidden alleys, the narrative explores themes of identity, trauma, and the desperate search for connection. From the opening pages to its breathtaking conclusion, the plot maintains a relentless pace, keeping readers on the edge of their seats with its twists and turns.

Mullen's writing style is both lyrical and visceral, transporting readers into the gritty world of Atlantic City with vivid prose and palpable atmosphere. Her attention to detail immerses the reader in the sights, sounds, and smells of the city, adding depth and authenticity to the narrative. Through her eloquent storytelling, Mullen paints a vivid portrait of her characters, infusing them with humanity and complexity. Each character, from the vulnerable homeless girls to the jaded detective, is rendered with empathy and nuance, making them feel like real people grappling with the weight of their pasts.

The strength of "Please See Us" lies not only in its compelling plot and atmospheric writing but also in its richly drawn characters. As the story unfolds, the lives of the two protagonists, Lily and Clara, intersect in unexpected ways, revealing the interconnectedness of their struggles and desires. Mullen deftly explores the depths of their psyches, delving into their fears, hopes, and regrets with sensitivity and insight. Through their alternating perspectives, readers are given glimpses into the complexities of human nature and the resilience of the human spirit.

Overall, "Please See Us" is a masterfully crafted novel that captivates from start to finish. With its gripping plot, immersive writing style, and deeply human characters, Caitlin Mullen has created a mesmerizing tale that lingers in the mind long after the final page is turned. It's a testament to her talent as a storyteller and marks her as a rising star in the world of literary fiction.

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Kudos to this debut novel. It was oozing with atmosphere. It took place in the decaying and gritty streets of Atlantic City. I felt my senses being hijacked. I could literally see, hear, and feel the story.

It was about marginalized and vulnerable women and how invisible they are. How easily they can be taken advantage of, abused and discarded. How easily forgotten. The plot focused on two female characters, Clara and Lilly, and alternated between their perspectives. Mixed in were the perspectives of murdered women known as "Janes" as well as Luis, a deaf and mute whose own situation was similar to the women.

Clara Voyant (Ava) is a teenage psychic living with her down and out aunt Des. Des is caught in the revolving door of AC as a casino waitress past her prime. She has come to rely on Clara and her readings for money. However, AC is falling apart. The glory days are long gone. The tourists have dried up. This leads to Des starting to take advantage of Clara in other ways to earn money. However, marginalized women have started disappearing, and Clara begins having visions about them. When she meets Lilly, a Vassar college graduate who has returned to her mom's for the summer after a humiliating experience in NYC, the two try to make sense of what's going on while each fights their own demons.

This was not your typical suspense thriller. It was women's literary fiction with a dark and foreboding aura. It involved a serial killer and violence against women. The author did a wonderful job of exploring gender discrimination and exploitation. At times, I felt sick reading this book, but it pulled me in and kept me hooked. The writing was poetic and inviting. My only frustration was that the MC's were sometimes portrayed as too weak and unable to think for themselves. I understood why, yet I wished they had been written a little more complex in that way.

Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I really wanted to like this book, but while I understand that the author wanted to convey a depressing, dreary setting, it was almost too much so. I didn't feel like I wanted to pick the book up again to continue reading ..... unfortunate, but will keep an eye out for future books by this author to see if future books are worth checking out.

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3.5 stars out of 5

The setting of Atlantic City is a bleak wasteland and the inhabitants are doing what they can to find work and survive. Sometimes that means having to do things you normally would not do.
Clara, a clairvoyant, has visions of things she can't understand. Unaware that there is a serial killer in their midst, closer than they realize, Clara's unusual friendship with a woman named Lily leads her to the meaning of the visions.
The author does a credible job making the feel of this book disquieting and dreary. There is a cold and saddening feel to the book which gives the story more depth.
Although I felt the narrative was a little slow at the beginning, I did like the story. I love the originality of the storyline and I love characters with psychic abilities. Especially when characters like Clara bring a story to life.
Thank you Gallery Books and Caitlin Mullen for the advanced reader's copy.

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Rating: 4/5
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Summary: A young psychic is doing whatever it takes to make enough money to leave Atlantic City when she starts having visions she suspects may be related to recent cases of women gone missing. She befriends an ex art gallery girl from NYC who believes in her gift and asks her for help.

What I liked: The writing style, suspense, and descriptions in this book were impressive! For example “Then, walking lazily through the rows of slot machines while I waited for the drifty, buzzed feeling to wear off, I watched men in VFW hats and women wearing fanny packs that bulged like exterior organs smoke Marlboro reds and sigh at their bad luck.”

What I didn’t like:
So the entire book is about Clara’s visions linked to the missing girls. Naturally, I want to find out what happened to the missing girls!! So in the end, they find the bodies in the marsh but the killer was never identified. I feel the ending could have been slightly better if we would have gotten the answers to the murders.

Thank you so much to NetGalley for the ARC!

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Thanks to Gallery Books, NetGalley, and Caitlin Mullen for the opportunity to review this book for an honest review and it was quite exciting. Lily has moved back to Atlantic City after a terrible breakup with her artist boyfriend who was rather heartless in humiliating in shaming her in front of all the art world that they associated with. So, with her tail tucked between her legs she runs home to her mother in search of a new life.
She finds that life after getting hired at a local spa and meeting young Clara, a psychic that is having visions of dead girls being killed behind the boardwalk. If these two ladies are not careful they may just end up on the killers’ list and be the next victims laid out in the marsh.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone that loves their thrillers with all the creepy factors that will keep you up late at night. Well worth the 5 stars I gave it—it’s fantastic and I am a new fan🥰

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This was a great book. I loved every paragraph, every sentence and every word of this masterpiece! I read it in 12 hours, which is a lot for me to do! It had everything and more laid out in the novel! I sure hope There is more to come from this author! I am totally hooked!

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This well-crafted book is set in Atlantic City and follows Clara, a psychic, and Lily, an art gallery worker. Clara has visions about missing women and enlists Lily's help to solve the case. The story jumps between different perspectives, making it a bit hard to follow. Clara is a well-developed character, and her story is heart-wrenching. The setting of Atlantic City adds to the somber tone of the story. Although this is not an uplifting story, I recommend it to those who enjoy fiction books that deal with crimes against women. It took me until the end to fully appreciate what the author did in this book. The reading experience was uneven, and I found the transitions between characters frustrating, particularly the Jane Does. However, after some time to think, I believe the writing style actually enhanced the story, even if it took me a while to realize it.

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The book follows three characters and goes by chapters which at the beginning was difficult but as I got further along became easier/ Story takes place in Atlantic City during summer and the people who want to be seen are the ones that have been killed. A very good story that will keep you going until the end. Good book with good characters.

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Many times novels written with chapters from different character's viewpoints are difficult to follow but in this book I think it gave you a chance to learn about the main characters Lily, Clara (Ava) and Luis in greater depth and to feel empathy for all three of these characters. There were also chapters written from the victim's viewpoints which added to the feeling of mystery and the wish to capture the "bad guy".

Lily has moved back to Atlantic city after failed relationships and career in New York City. Clara is a young woman living in poverty with her Aunt and trying to make ends meet with her "psychic abilities" Luis is a young custodian at the casino where Lily also works who because of his deaf/mutemess has been bullied all of his life. Their lives will eventually collide as Clara wants help from Lily to try and solve the visions she keeps seeing. Meanwhile an unknown killer is strangling young woman and living them in the swamps behind the casinos.

I read this book non-stop once I started it and really felt for all the characters. It was fast paces, suspenseful and well written.

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Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen was an engrossing mystery that will keep any reader on the edge of their seat from start to finish.
Mullen’s writing skills are truly remarkable. The author's gripping plot that immediately grabbed my attention and kept me engaged throughout.

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

Thank You NetGalley and Gallery Books for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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A griping page turner filled with mystery and intrigue that will have you on the edge of your seat. Desperate for the next clue to get closer to the ending.

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Its summer in Atlantic City. The once vibrant city is slowly dying, and there are 4 dead women in the marsh near the casinos. This is the story of those women, and the others who have come to AC for a variety of reasons from heartbreak to abandonment to a restrictive home life. Told in alternating chapters in the voices of those women and others around them, the plot unfolds slowly filling in details about the past and present. This is a book you can't put down.

The good -- Lily's story is compelling and I really liked the character. Clara (a teen clairvoyant) is also a great character and her experiences were gut-wrenching and sometimes terrifying. Honestly, though, there were parts of the story that were disturbing and difficult to read, and I found one bit downright annoying. There are several passages that are pretty graphic -- both sexual and violent. A couple of chapters are written in second person -- chapters about the dead girls and how they died told with "you think this", "you did that" and so on. While I realize that is an author's choice, but I find it annoying to read. It took me out of the story in a way that writing in third person does not.

This was a well crafted mystery with social issue implications. The reader is left with so many questions and points for discussion. This would be a great book club book if you can get past the caveats mentioned above.

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Another book that I grabbed for a beach trip, thinking that a mystery would be a perfect companion to my toes in the sand, but this one was so hard to read - not for the faint of heart. Switching between POVs, one by one young women go missing in Atlantic City and unfortunately most of these young women do not have people looking for them. Before I go further, let me say I can enjoy some gore and love the mystery/thriller, but this one just felt over the top and too much from my point of view.

While saying all of that, I did love this author's writing and would love to read more from her because I feel as though she can write and can put together an intricate plot, so this book was published three years ago at the time of reading and I wish she would write and publish another one.

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"Please See Us" could have been more interesting than it actually was and that's a shame. I read the reviews before getting a copy of this and I feel like it wound up falling flat for me in a few too many areas. It was also far more predictable than I thought it would be after reading the good reviews of this book. Maybe Caitlin Mullen's writing just isn't for me because this book really fell flat.

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If you’re looking for a thriller or suspense novel to keep you intrigued until the last page, to keep you guessing the plot, and to twist the story enough to just confuse you, this is a book for you. The story was fascinating and the way the author wrote the characters and the descriptions of the places was perfect. If you’re into thrillers I would highly recommend this book for a good story that will keep you on your toes.

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Please See Us, by Caitlin Mullen, is an excellent debut novel that stands apart from other thrillers and mysteries currently out there! Told in multiple viewpoints - we get to know Lily, who has just come home from New York and is trying to land back on her feet; Clara, a young psychic tarot card reader who is seeing increasingly scary visions; Luis, a deaf mute who works at the local spa and while everyone misses him, he misses nothing; and then there's the Jane Does, quietly stacking up in the marsh behind a run down motel and no one is noticing them -- they're just waiting to be found. So how do all of these seemingly opposite characters add up? You don't know until the final 10%! Mullen does an excellent job of keeping your interest, having side plots, and weaving together several different strands until the very end. I do wish there was an extra chapter or so to really tidy things up, but that's just because I hate guessing things and like a nice, tidy bow at the end of my novels. Very realistic, very heartbreaking - I was stunned that this was a debut! 4 solid stars.

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Review coming soon. Fell behind due to illness, amd working on all of the old ones now.

This one will not be forgotten. Creepy! Exactly what girls are afraid of! Wow! Very good!
Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC; opinions are mine.

Pub Date was March 30, 2020
#PleaseSeeUs #CaitlinMullen #NetGalley

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