Cover Image: The Lady Upstairs

The Lady Upstairs

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Member Reviews

I read this novel shortly after seeing Halley Sutton moderate a panel at one of the crime fiction conventions. Yes, she was that impressive. I fully expected this to be one of the most talked about books of the summer – but the pandemic had other ideas. Despite the release delay, The Lady Upstairs will still be the talk of the town soon enough. You will want to make sure you get your copy on release day, so that you can be part of the conversation.
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Disclosure: I received a netgalley of this book on my Kindle (in exchange for an honest review). I was excited to have the opportunity to preview this book. This is the first time a publisher has asked this of me and allowed me to do this except for when I was working as an editor for a publishing company, which was completely different. Since I have to give the book just two stars, it may well be the last time a publisher asks this of me. I truly wanted to give the book a higher rating, but GoodReads' three star rating means one "liked it." That does not describe my reaction to this book.

First, the good news about the book. It is well-structured and well-written. The plot makes sense, the problem is presented at the beginning, and the pacing is done reasonably well, except the 10-44% part of the book where nothing really happens. But then at that 44% point, something does, and the plot moves along great after that. There is suspense as we wonder if the protagonist will succeed. The situation is mildly interesting, and the characters are convincingly and realistically presented.

So, what's the problem? That takes a little explanation. The book's premise is that there are a lot of jerks in Hollywood, big shot producers and the like, who are unfaithful to their wives, and, who knows, probably mistreat their pets too. The protagonist is here to set things right, get some justice from these despicable bigshots. How does she want to do this? She wants to screw them, literally, in a kinky way, hopefully, and then blackmail them, by threatening to expose their infidelities and deviant predilections to the public and the bigshots' family members. Our protagonist is surrounded by like-minded "friends" who help her by keeping the hidden camera rolling and the other logistics of the blackmailing.

Perhaps you can already see my problem from the premise by the way I have stated it. But in case you can not, I'll spell it out. In every novel the protagonist is good in some way, has to be trying to achieve something worthwhile. This "good" I refer to doesn't mean the protagonist has to be perfect. A protagonist can be seriously flawed, vexed by inner demons, struggling against bad features of her personality, what have you. But at some level, in some inner core, there has to be something we can root for in the protagonist, something we can hope she achieves. There's nothing like that for me in this novel.

An author has wide latitude in portraying a protagonist's flaws because we the reader are getting the story from the protagonist's perspective and want to be on the protagonist's side. There are limits, however, and here Sutton exceeds them. This protagonist has no morally redeeming features whatsoever. It doesn't matter that the people she is trying to harm are also morally repugnant. Sutton, by the way, doesn't even do a very convincing job of depicting the antagonists as being bad. She sort of assumes they are and that we will agree with her. Cheating on one's spouse is never cool, but given the temptation and manipulation the cheaters are subjected to by the protagonist, I partially excuse them. If nothing else, the punishment the protagonist metes out to these blackmail victims certainly exceeds the parameters of their crime. The author, I suspect, disagrees, leading me to wonder if she may be trying to achieve some form of catharsis from a feeling of having been done wrong in her past. In any event, the wish fulfillment fantasy of the author's this novel may portray is not working to her advantage.

Since the protagonist is basically rotten to the core and trying to achieve one unworthy goal after another, including getting away with murder, the entire novel, however well-written, structured, and carefully plotted it may be, breaks down. That's why you see a lot of other reviewers saying they could not finish the book and that it was just too sordid. In books with this kind of failing, and thankfully they're rare, reviewers complain about how there are no likable characters. Here, the protagonist is not likable and no one around her is either. Also, the goals the protagonist is trying to achieve, except for one (survival) which is never seriously threatened, are completely unworthy.

Even though I give this book a low rating, a number of people will enjoy it. They will overlook the moral bankruptcy portrayed by the protagonist and extend her the well wishes a protagonist of any novel gets just from being placed within that role by a novel's structure. If you can do that, and many younger people brought up on reality TV no doubt can, then the novelty of the plot and the good writing will carry you through to the end of the book and provide a satisfying reading experience for you. I did not enjoy the book, although its strengths makes me give it a rating of okay. I was unable to feel any sympathy, empathy, or kind wishes for the disgusting specimen of humanity this bottom-feeding protagonist represented.
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I'm going to be honest, I didn't finish it. It's horrible people doing horrible things to other horrible people. I'm halfway through and haven't read anything in nearly two weeks because I feel like I need to finish this first, but I'm actively repulsed by the thought of reading more of it. I'm reminded that I hate noir. That said, it is well written and interesting, I just can't stand any of these people.

I have recommended it to friends who love noir, I'm planning to include it in a book talk about Damsels Causing Distress, and will make sure my library buys a copy.

This is well written and this is basically catnip for people who like noir. I'm just not one of them.
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Author Halley Sutton’s debut is slow burning modern day noir. 

Protagonist Jo works for the Lady Upstairs, a mysterious woman who makes it her business to bring down powerful, abusive, cheating men in LA. 

Jo has never met the Lady. Doesn’t know her name or what she looks like. The Lady’s instructions are passed on to Lou. Then it’s Jo’s job is to set up the scheme to take down the mark. And the scheme is always the same- photograph and record each man in a compromising position and demand lots of money to keep the pics under wraps. Jo and Lou think of their work as striking a blow to the patriarchy and teaching bad men a lesson. But they are really just grifters conning rich men. 

Jo has recruited Ellen to help bring a sleazy movie producer down. The pressure is on Jo to finish the job and collect the money because she has to pay off a debt to the Lady. The job goes horribly wrong and the producer ends up dead. Jo’s debt to the Lady grows and as time runs short, she becomes more desperate, setting off a chain of events that exposes secrets and lies. 

The flawed characters, setting and quick pacing make a compelling thriller that readers will enjoy.
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I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

This book is tense, suspensful and as dark as a 1940's film noir.

The characters have hard edges and are not always likeable.

What starts out as a way to punish powerful men quickly spirals out of control into blackmail, murder, lies and disillusionment.
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I just really could not get into reading "The Lady Upstairs," which is too bad as it seems to have some pretty good early reviews. I guess it just wasn't for me.
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A wild ride of a debut novel.A heroine that takes down menwhose acts behavior will shock anger.and have you cheering for their punishment.An author who keeps you turning the pages who Ibwill be following,#netgalley #the lady upstairs.
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Blackmail.

Secrets.

Sex.

Lies.

Hidden identities.

Murder.

It's all here, in 'The Lady Upstairs'. 


'The Lady Upstairs' takes you on a whirlwind of emotions; from thinking you know everyone, to realizing you know no one. This book is a near perfect thriller of exposing the dark underbelly of L.A.'s (technically fictional) powerhouses.  The only outlier would be the ending seemed a little rushed as far as "the reveal"; nonetheless, as a debut novel, it must be said, "Well done Halley Sutton'.
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This book grips you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the last page. With its kickass heroine, dirty cops, and #metoo vibe, I found myself wishing Jo and Lou got their hands on Harvey Weinstein…before he was eventually taken down. But, alas, this is fiction. All of the characters are well developed and deliciously flawed; the world Sutton builds is seedy in the best of ways. Ultimately, this story has an edge and is truly an exciting read.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the e-Arc.
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This is gripping, surprisingly entertaining, action packed reading with kickassing, tough, cool heroines tells provocative story with #metoo vibes and quite delicious feminism references.

 We may proudly announce there is fresh talented author out there about the release her captivating debut novel! Well done dear Halley Sutton who brought an original, different plot and hooked me up at with those first pages. Even though at some parts I get lost my interest just a little bit, she wrapped up the story so well with quite intriguing and clever conclusion.

Let’s chat about the plot and meet with our heroines, bad guys and story’s progression:

We’re introduced to Joe: our one of kickass, strong, likable heroines, pays her dues, atones for her sins with a risky job she took. She works for Lady Upstairs to punish the ruthless men including corrupted police officers, abuser Hollywood Producers and dirty cheater actors. She seems like a vigilante who brings justice to town. Her coworker Lou gives the orders she took from their mysterious boss. 

Everything seems going flat and Jo is about to pay her debt to earn her freedom. But she makes a big mistake at her job and one of her targets is found murdered which takes the attention of LAPD and her lovely, vicious and dangerous lady boss. Now her life is at the stake and she needs to accept the biggest con to save herself and coworker from the wrath of her boss. But her new assignment couldn’t be more risky: she needs to take down a dangerous and resourceful politician. Payback is karma’s little sister, both of them are real bitches! Could Jo achieve her mission and save herself from the danger? Lips are sealed. You gotta read it! But I have to admit especially last pages are thrilling, edgy, dazzling, twisty makes you squirm at your seats and forces you turn the pages as fast as you could.

Overall: I’m giving four moving, enjoyable, captivating, impressive stars! It was promising and great start! I’m looking forward to read more works of Halley Sutton in near future. 

Special thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam/ G.P. Putnam’s Sons for sharing this entertaining ARC in exchange my honest review.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Group for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Jo works for The Lady Upstairs. She has never met the lady but assignments come through her friend Lou, who got her started with the lady. They are hired to set up men to get evidence of them cheating on their wives or being abusive and then blackmail them. Jo owes a big debt to the lady so she needs her assignments to go right and of course they go anything but and Jo gets into all kinds of trouble trying to stay afloat. 

This was a good debut. I liked it. I did not love it. Parts were pretty entertaining but then I found my interest waning in other parts. Some aspects of the ending were pretty obvious throughout. Overall it was an interesting subject matter and a pretty good read.
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This is a well written, original thrill ride that really uses issues we are fighting to make better!  The characters were developed in a way that really had me wanting to find their fates, the plot was so amazingly developed!  It’ll bring you to tears at times, chill, thrill, and shock the heck out of you!  I highly, highly recommend, especially if you love #metoo thematic books, which show it in a revenge seeking way!  
Will make sure to buzz it up on all the different platforms!
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