Cover Image: The Photographer

The Photographer

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Member Reviews

Delta Dawn (yes that is her name) is a photographer who takes photos of children’s birthday parties for New York City’s elite.  When Delta is hired to photograph Natalie Straub’s party, she finds herself wishing she was no longer behind the lens, but a part of the scene.  She ingratiates herself into the Straub’s lives by offering to babysit for Natalie, befriending her mother, Amelia, and finding chances to interact with her father, Fritz.  Now Delta finds herself enjoying the finer things in life that the Straub family is accustomed to.  Once she moves into a garden apartment in their townhouse, we see that photographs aren’t all that Delta can manipulate.  

I was really looking forward to reading this book because I love a good psychological thriller, but I had some issues with it.  It was so implausible to me at times.  The Straub family just accepts Delta into their lives and allow her to babysit their daughter without doing a background or reference check, really?  Some of the decisions Delta makes were so out there that I found them unrealistic as well.  I did think this book was fast-paced and kept me intrigued the entire time.  It was a page-turner for sure, but I had hoped for more from the ending.    

I listened to the audiobook, which the author narrates.  I thought she did a great job and definitely enjoyed this on audio.  Overall, I would recommend Mary Dixon Carter’s debut novel, but only if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief.  

Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a hard-to-classify book. I saw others label it a psychological thriller, but the closest I can come up with is a fictional memoir. Essentially, Delta Dawn, a photographer from a meager background, uses her skills to insert herself into the lives of others. At first, she simply edits herself into their photos, but soon she finds a way to edit herself into the physical life of the wealthy Straub family. The story revolves around her plan to work her way deeper and deeper into the family until she becomes a central component. What makes it suspenseful is the lurking question of whether or not the Straub family will ever discover Delta's plan, as her missteps create leave clues to her deception up along the way.

But until the very end of the book, there doesn't seem to be much chance of that, as the Straubs accept every excuse Delta provides without question, and she covers her missteps with little effort. Time passes quickly in this book, and at times those jumps are jarring. In contrast, Delta knows quite a bit about photography and architecture, and often spends pages describing them, which creates some drag.

Knowing that Delta is a manipulator, I found it difficult to connect with her or to want her to succeed, even at the end. Her dispassionate discourses on architecture and her constant rationalization for her actions made it difficult to like her. But in a way this book is a sort of case study in Borderline Personality Disorder. Delta develops an incredibly quick and intense obsession over the Straubs, picturing herself as part of the family long before it actually happens, and she has convinced herself she has a very different life--not in a con artist way, but because she actually believes it, so there's a fair bit of Delusional Disorder in this as well.  She seems incapable of having a real relationship, but unlike the worthlessness typically seen in BPD, Delta sees herself as above everyone else, the master manipulator of all she sees. It became obvious early on that nothing she claimed was true, so there wasn't a lot of mystery in this book, nor was the ending particularly surprising. But the descriptions are vivid and dialogue entertaining, so it's worth a read if one has the time.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and MacMillan Audio for the opportunity to review this audiobook.
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“The Photographer” by Mary Dixie Carter is a creepy story with a very creepy narrator. In fact, the narrator, Delta Dawn, borders on the unreliable narrator. I’m a fan of the unreliable narrator, as it ups the creep factor when done correctly, as Ms. Carter has. All the while reading this, I questioned: is Delta a sociopath or is she an unreliable narrator? Or both? Certainly, the reader realizes that Delta sees the world a bit differently than everyone around her. Plus, she hints at some questionable history she’s been involved in
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Enjoyed listening to this title.  You never know what is going on behind closed doors. Envy makes people do crazy things.  When Delta Dawn is hired for an eleven-year-old birthday party, she finds that she wants to be more than the photographer, friend, or nanny.
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Envy and obsession are powerful players in this thrilling story by Mary Dixie Carter. Delta Dawn has a wonderful job. As a photographer, children are often the focus of her talent, and she truly excels when it comes to creating memories for families. However, when she is hired to photograph Natalie Straub's birthday party, Delta begins to have strange ideas. She wonders why she is always on the outside looking in. What if she wasn't behind the lens, instead part of the very scenes she is photographing? The Straub's have an idyllic life of wealth and elegance, and Delta becomes obsessed.

As I became immersed in this story I could not help but think of You by Caroline Kepnes. Although I only read the first book in the series, and have not watched the television show, Joe Goldberg was front and center in my mind as I read this book, The Photographer. It has been three years since I read You, and I hadn't even tracked it on Goodreads. Nonetheless, despite close to two thousand books read since then I remember Kepnes's book almost verbatim.

Why the comparison? What is it about Delta? I think it was privilege. She felt she deserved the life of the Straub family. She lays out a plan of attack, as it were, to instill herself into their lives. This begins by offering to babysit. Then she befriends Amelia, Natalie's mother. This leads to fantasizing about Fritz, Natalie's father. Factor in her excellent skills as a photographer, and she even maniuplates photos to appear as if she has been part of their life's events, including imagining herself with Fritz at the most basest of levels.

Delta's imagination and obsession reaches no bounds. Soon she decides to insert herself into the Straub family, even if that means literally erasing Amelia. In fact, Delta was not the only intriguing and off-balance character. Amelia was no peach in this story. Both of the women had a level of creepiness, leaving me to wonder who indeed would end up on top and where things could possibly land.

Lastly, although Natalie was only eleven years old, she had a few things that were not just right as well. Mary Dixie Carter did a great job at writing characters we the reader could hardly warm up to. Instead, we were pretty much groomed to dislike all of them, for their own reasons, all while leaving me to turn pages vigoroursly as I just had to see this book to its conclusion. No worries there. I was engaged, intrigued and shocked.  
 
Many thanks to Celadon Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
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The Photographer is a quick listen, but at the same time, it's rather slow-moving, kind of an ambling pace. Basically, it's a story of obsession, of wanting what someone else has, but for a domestic suspense, it requires a lot more suspension of disbelief than I care for. I realize this is fiction, so some things can go over the top without causing too many eyerolls. This one goes above and beyond with the bad decisions. Okay, bad decisions might be too generous. It's more like unbelievable decisions, and that starts very early in the story. But here's the thing - something about it still held my interest. The writing has good flow despite the slow pace, and I wanted to see how things would play out with these characters. Mary Dixie Carter narrates her own story, and she does it pretty well. This isn't the first book I've listened to where the author narrates, and it doesn't always work out. but Carter voices her characters convincingly. In the end, this one did go over the top, but it's still a decent listen, a bit of escapism in this crazy old world.
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As you read (or listen to, as I did) this book, consider that as much as Delta Dawn comes across as someone you would never trust, she is, perhaps, one of the most reliable narrators you will ever encounter. She tells you exactly who she is. Granted, she reveals herself slowly, developing her self-portrait pixel by pixel so that by the time you have her full picture, you are horrified.

Delta takes photos of children, and when she is hired by the Straubs, she is taken by them. Her particular skill of gathering details about her clients comes in handy, and before the Straubs realize what is happening, she has infiltrated their family, making herself one of them. She knows exactly how to manipulate them, using enough of the truth to make herself indispensable and "trustworthy."

Mary Dixie Carter, who narrates the audiobook, presents a character so loathsome that you are terrified of Delta, yet--YET--you almost root for her. The Straubs make themselves vulnerable to this woman in ways that defy all logic and reason, yet Amelia Straub, the matriarch, needs to feel superior, and she needs a pet. Does she deserve what Delta has planned? Does she deserve what Delta does? No. There did come a point when I stopped being afraid FOR Delta and started being afraid OF her.

I would love to know what you think of this book. It would make a fine choice for a book club because there is so much to talk about. Hit up the comments and let me know your thoughts.
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Listened on audio. Predictable but loved the Single White Female vibes. I read this in one setting and it was very easy to do, as I had to find out what was going to happen! A good beach read.
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I knew I was gonna read something crazy given that I read the synopsis. However, I didn’t think it was going to be THIS CRAZY!

Seriously, Delta seems like a regular lady who has a good career and knows how to be around people. She knows how professional she needs to be on the job. She makes good sense in any circumstances. But then that’s when I realize that all of her reasons were beginning to untether when her obsession with the family got deeper and serious.

This book does give off the Caroline Kepnes’ You novel. The plot is well organized and the right pace. The narrator did a great job with the story. I forgot to mention, I listened to the audiobook lol. I would totally recommend it. In my opinion , this should be made into a movie!

I give this book 5 out 5 stars.
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This book just wasn't for me. The narrator Delta was untrustworthy and unlikable. I felt like I was getting whiplash reading this book. The storyline was glacially slow in the beginning then the middle was full of forced dialog. The plot was interesting enough, I just wish I had someone to root for. The narrator was also not enjoyable.
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I started off listening to this audiobook and honestly, I couldn't stand to listen any longer. Then I received a recommendation for this book again. So I decided to read the book and I loved it! Delta is a psychopath for sure, I loved the storyline but I would have liked to learn more about her past and why she became the way she is.  I thought the 5 years later chapter would have more answers. Still a good read and I would recommend this novel to book clubs. A lot to unpack.
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I wanted to like this book based on the plot summary, but unfortunately, I could not get into the story. It was slow, somewhat disjointed, and unbelievable. I struggled to finish even though it's a relatively short book. The ending is too quick and sudden. 

I listened to this novel on audio, and I found the narrator monotone and slow. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for the  ARC.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan audio for the early listen. I had a very hard time getting into this book. The main character was not likable at all. The narrator, however did a wonderful job narrating the story.
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I enjoyed the writing and the characters, but the ending felt a bit abrupt and left a few loose ends. I was expecting a huge AAHHH moment, but it was resolved in a more reserved manner. However, overall an enjoyable read, and the narrator did a wonderful job bringing the story to life.
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What a debut novel! Such a disturbing read (or listen in my case) that I seriously couldn't put it down.

As a compulsive thriller reader, I really appreciated the obsession and young family tropes in this novel. It was perfectly creepy, intimate and entertaining, making it a sure 5-star listen for me.

The title character in The Photographer, Delta Dawn, is a taken family photographer in New York City. She loves her job and the job loves her, but then... she is hired to photograph an 1--year-old Natalie's birthday party. That is when she realizes that she wishes she could become part of this family. First she becomes Natalie's babysitter, then becomes closer with the mom, and her last step is to become the surrogate mother for the family's second child. It becomes a dark obsession Dawn will do anything to succeed with.

The plot pulled me in immediately, but I stayed for Delta's narration, which is dark, obsessive and unreliable. She definitely reminded me of Jane Doe and Joe Goldberg. Delusional and unpredictable, this was definitely a huge hit. Moreover, I'd highly recommend the audiobook version - it's gripping, captivating and also very realistic.

*Thank you to the Publisher for a free advance copies of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
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ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A dark and rather creepy debut thriller.

BRIEF REVIEW:   Delta Dawn is a "photographer" who lives in Brooklyn.  Her work consists of mostly parties and family events and other special functions for wealthy New Yorkers. She does her job well and has a niche when it comes to capturing the best and eliminating the flaws in her photographs.  However, there is a dark side to Delta Dawn.

 When she is hired by the Straub's (Amelia and Fritz) for their daughter Natalie' 11th birthday she soon realizes just how much she wishes their life was her life. The couple are architects and live in a beautiful home, have fancy clothes and a lot social events which keep them busy.  They have an enviable life,  just the kind of life Delta has always longed for.   One day when the Straubs find themselves without a babysitter, Delta offers to help them out by staying with Natalie. Soon she finds other reasons to become a more frequent presence in their lives and, she is doing some pretty bizarre and freaky things behind their backs while they are out of the house as well.  Soon her envy and obsession seem no longer within her control but, she has another idea which may keep her connected to this family long term.

This debut thriller was fast paced, creepy and entertaining in a deranged sort of way. Even though it didn't have any earth shattering twists,  it was one of the stories that I knew I had to finish to see just how crazy things got.  I didn't even mid that I had to suspend belief along the way. The story was like passing a 10-car pileup along the highway, just hard to turn away.

Although I liked the first person narration by the unreliable Delta Dawn, I was less than thrilled with the overall audio performance which was read by the author. The tone seemed wrong and unfortunately took away from my overall enjoyment of this one. 

Thanks go to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for allowing me to download this audio at no cost in exchange for my unbiased review.  If you enjoy a crazy, creepy story, you might enjoy the print or eBook.

RATING:  3.5/5  

http://bibliophilebythesea.blogspot.com/2021/06/89-2021-photographer-mary-dixie-carter.html
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After being hired as a photographer for their child's birthday party Delta starts to place herself into the family dynamics of the Straub family in this twisted thriller by Mary Dixie Carter

After doing photography for the Straubs, Delta starts to offer to help the family with little tasks like babysitting their daughter Natalie. She then starts to becomes friends with the Amelia. When she finds out how she can get closer to the family Delta starts to manipulate everyone involved to get where she needs to be. And will go to some extremes to keep it that way.



This story was a little bit unsettling at times but in the best way. Delta is a woman desperate to be excepted and forms an unhealthy obsession with the Straub family. Her character was so well written in the way she watches and figures out how to manipulate the family. I feel like my brain was screaming red flag constantly when the character would talk about the family.

The story is not deep in a make you think hard way but has a good suspense build up and flow. It reminded me a lot of a story like you in the creepy watcher way.

It's a solid story for a slow build suspense and definitely makes you think about who you let into your home.

I could take it or leave it when it comes to the audiobook. While the narrators voice changes between character well, it can also sound very robotic at times. I wish it had been less monotone at times. This however didn't take away from the story though.
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I almost never give a book a bad review, mainly because I don't finish the book if I don't like it. I was given a copy of this book through netGalley so I soldiered on, skipping ahead in some parts. I did not like this book at all. The characters were unlikable and underdeveloped. There was no backstory, and the ending, when I finally got there, was so predictable. 
Delta Dawn is a photographer of rich children's birthday parties, so she has an eye for detail, and she shared that detail with us down to the shade of lipstick someone was wearing. I really didn't care! So much minutiae!  Delta was the epitome of an unreliable narrator. She didn't seem to acknowledge things even to herself. I realize she was mentally ill so perhaps this was all part of her illness. 
The only character I even remotely like was the child Natalie that Delta ingratiates herself with to live her dream of becoming part of the family. I felt really sorry for her in the end. 

The author was also the narrator and I really hate to be critical of her but I found the almost hushed, breathless quality of her voice to be annoying. I thought it made Delta sound very young and immature. The only emotion I saw was when she was reading the part of the mother. Again, this may have been intentional as part of her interpretation of the character. Normally I love audiobooks because they make the characters come to life. However I think maybe I would like this a little better if I had read it instead of listening to it, but I am not going to waste my time. 

Forgive me Minotaur Books and Ms Carter, but these opinions are strictly my own. Not ever book is every reader's cup of tea. I wish you success with this and future endeavors.
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I liked this story about the photographer, Delta Dawn, and yes, in case you're wondering, I'm still curious as to what that flower she has on, could it be a faded rose from days gone by? The story itself was narrated well and flowed nicely but was very predictable and and a little disappointing. What I thought was missing was how 35 year old Delta got to be the psychopath she turned out to be. She hints at things in her upbringing but I felt that what set her upon this path was too vague. #netgalley #thephotographer
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I had the opportunity to listen the audiobook thanks to Netgalley. Although the book was entertaining, It didn't do a whole lot for me. Mary Dixie Carter took Delta to a whole new level of crazy. Even though I didn't enjoy most of the characters, I did like Natalie! I could see the ending coming from a mile away but it was nice to get some closure. Glad I read it but definitely not one of my favorites this year.
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