Cover Image: The Photographer

The Photographer

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed this book very much. It was filled with creepy obsession and and fabrication.  The story line kept me wanting to know how it would end. The narration was done by the author and was done well. Thanks to NetGalley for the privilege to read and review this book.
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Delta Dawn makes her living as a photographer of the well-heeled elite of NYC. She knows just how to manipulate and photoshop the pictures to make everything look perfect, and is hired by Amelia and Fitz to photograph their daughter Natalie’s birthday party. As the day progresses and conversations are overheard, it becomes clear to Delta that they have something she wants, and she can give them something they want. She hatches a plan to make herself indispensable to the family and manipulates circumstances to ingratiate herself with the family. Pictures aren’t the only thing Delta can manipulate.

What does she want? More than what we are told from the beginning. Told exclusively from Delta’s POV, this is a tale of envy and obsession by a master manipulator. What she does to accomplish her goal is totally creepy as the lines between what is real and what exists only in her mind is blurred. Amelia has obsessions of her own, as we soon discover. And Natalie, the 11-year-old? Turns out she’s the savviest of them all. 

Sure you have to suspend some disbelief, but I accept that in this genre. It was still a fun read! I’m learning to just go with the flow and I'm enjoying this genre on audio very much.

Note: I do not recommend the audio version, read by the author. Intentional or not, her voice and cadence was very slow and robotic with poor sound quality, as if she was talking into a tin can. I always increase the speed on audiobooks to approximate my own reading speed while keeping the voice(s) normal, but in this case nothing helped. I had to work hard to separate my dislike of the narration from the story itself.
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First of all thank you to Net Galley for letting me read this for the actual book.  What a read this book was.  At first I thought awe this is going to be a nice story of making new friends through your actual job and building on that friendship to see where it goes.  WOW I realized that was not what was going to happen at all. How one person can make so many fabrications and keep those all straight is above and beyond me.  This story had all the weird psychological twists that I really enjoy in a good book.   The fact that there was an actual story that kept my attention and kept me wanting to read to find out what the outcome would be and how all the characters would be affected in the end was great too.  I Look forward to reading more by this Author.
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The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter
Narrated by: Mary Dixie Carter
Publication Date: May25, 2021
Description from NetGalley...
“When Perfect Images...As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite: snapping photos of their children’s birthday parties, transforming images of stiff hugs and tearstained faces into visions of pure joy, and creating moments these parents long for.

Are Made of Beautiful Lies...But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene—in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life.

The Truth Will Be Exposed...That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother, Amelia; finding chances to listen to her father, Fritz. Soon she’s bathing in the master bathtub, drinking their expensive wine, and eyeing the beautifully finished garden apartment in their townhouse. It seems she can never get close enough, until she discovers that photos aren’t all she can manipulate. 
Thank you to @netgalley @minotaurbooks the ALC in return for my honest review. 
My thoughts...
This was a slow burn. The plot reminded me of the movies The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Single White Female mashed up. The psychological thriller theme was interesting, but I expected more thrill. Unfortunately, this wasn’t for me. The pace was too slow for me, where I was left hoping something would finally happen. I don’t know whether the actual book would be better, the audio narration was okay. If you enjoy slow burn psychological thrillers, this might be the book for you.
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*Rarely have I enjoyed when an author narrates her own book, but this is one of those exceptions. She knows Delta and her core. She brings it to life perfectly.*

This will be a devisive book. It won't be for everyone. This isn't a typical thriller beach read. And don't get me wrong. This isn't me judging anyone. I love those. I'm trash for them. This book?

There is some thinking involved. Your moral compass will be tested, maybe permantly shifted. Told from the first person narrative- from Delta- the "antaganonist." But good luck liking any of the characters.  Morally gray characters? Try morally gray book. Delta's a mess but no one is innocent. Except Natalie.

It is easy to describe her as the villain, peg her as dangerous and the single white female type. And I'm not arguing the typecast. BUT to just stop there and not delve deeper on the sacrificed she makes for the Straubs, and how they used her? Mistake.

What she does with her photography is creepy, sure. But it is harmless in reality. When she inserts herself into the family's life? Look. Ok. Her intent for them is good, truly. But yeah it benefits her and her needs, of courde. But there is no getting around how they use her, too. They're all guilty.

If you like thrillers where everyone has a motive and noone is good or bad but seriously unlikable. One where you have to think through the morality of everyone's actions and self reflect because... shit I don't even know... you will love this book.

It is completely unique. Completely different and refreshing. I loved it. But it isn't for everyone.

"I'd like to have some choices,"<Natalie> said.

"You'll create your own choices " <Delta> said, "like I do.
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The Photographer was a different sort of psychological thriller than I'm used to. Although it was a quicker read, it was rather slow paced and felt like a lot of nothing was happening. It was slow to build and we were getting to know our narrator, Delta Dawn throughout since it is told all from her POV (which I'm not too keen on with thrillers). It was reminiscent of those 80's and 90's films like Single White Female. Always wanting what others have and doing what one needed to do to get it.

Delta is a photographer in NY. She shoots primarily children and seems to have a real connection with her subjects and their families. When the Straub family (Amelia and Fritz) hires her for their daughter, Natalie's birthday party, an unusual friendship begins to form between Delta and Amelia (the mother). As a photographer, Delta can really change the perspective of the world. She can manipulate the audience into seeing what she believes they want to see and what she thinks is the better version. Isn't that what social media and the world of digital photography is about? Putting your best foot forward? That was how I was getting to view Delta's world. Since the story is told all from her view, I didn't know how reliable of narrator she was. But it was quite obvious from the beginning WHO she was.

I listened to the audio of this book and was quite mesmerized with the narrator (who just happened to be the author of the book). She had a dreamy feel for Delta's voice. Even though I felt I needed to suspend my belief in what Delta was doing, she still put me at ease with how Mary Dixie Carter portrayed her. And the way she tackled Amelia and that upper class voice, really put a face on her. I wanted to root for Delta because of this. Is Delta an unreliable narrator or is Amelia really that clouded in judgment and so focused on what she wants that she doesn't care what is right in front of her?

Overall, the book was entertaining and ok. I liked the premise, but felt like it was a bit slow and I wanted more to happen. I was waiting for a huge climax but felt like it was a story that just petered along. Nothing too surprising took place, but I was invested enough to see how everything played out. If you're looking to suspend a bit of believability for a bit and just want some Single White Female entertainment, I think you'd enjoy this book. 
I'll be curious what comes next from this author. 3+ stars
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The Photographer is a suspenseful mystery debut written and narrated by Mary Dixie Carter. This one grabbed me from the start and kept me wanting to know what would happen next. 

Photographer Delta Dawn works for elite, high end, New York clientele, taking pictures of children's birthday parties. She has a very highly skilled knack for capturing just the right moments, and looks on children's faces. She knows when and who to include in the photos. She also knows that the parents want to look like they are good parents in the pictures as well. Delta has great photoshopping abilities to make sure a sad or grumpy child will turn out good in her pictures. She also has a few magic tricks and ballon animal skills up her sleeve to help kids smile. Her photography reputation is excellent and she gets many job referrals by word of mouth. 

When Delta agrees to photograph a birthday party for the Straub family's daughter, Natalie, she is somehow strongly drawn to them personally. She becomes compulsively obsessed with them and weaves her way into their family in a weird and unbalanced way, bit by bit. First, she ends up being Natalie's babysitter (and friend), then the trust grows more and more with her parents Amelia and Fritz until it gets deeper and weirder! By the time she has herself completely ingratiated into the family though, I had to wonder at times, doesn't anyone ever do a background check?? Delta was totally creepy and this story was told in her first person POV. How reliable was it? 

This was a fun, creepy suspense for me and it kept me wondering what would happen next, so I had to keep reading to the end. The narration by the author was convincing, and she did a great job. I gave this story 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. 

I would like to thank #NetGalley and Macmillan Audio/Minotaur Books for my AudioARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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I struggled with this audiobook. I liked  the narrator until she would try to do voices. Then it just made me cringe. It sounded off and so affected to me. 
The story was ok, but I feel like it was the same ole same ole. There was nothing new or fresh about the story. There was nothing that made it stand out and make me want to tell everyone about it. 
I’m so sorry to say I just didn’t enjoy this one at all. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook for an honest review.
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Despite being slow paced and feeling bored sometimes, this was an entertaining read that still held my attention because I needed to know how it ended. I found the twist to be predictable, but I am glad it ended the way it did. A “lighter” thriller, I recommend this to those just starting out reading thrillers or who may be too squeamish to read anything heavier.
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The Photographer 
By Mary Dixie Carter 

I went into this read expecting a thriller but what I experienced was more of a slow burning mystery. While the concept was Intriguing there was never a sense of danger or fear driving the reader, simple curiosity of how it would all play out. The characters felt stereotypical and Delta seem to find her way into the family’s hearts a little too quickly in my opinion. If you’re looking for interesting read with a bit of a Psychological twist this might be the book for you. 

I didn’t love this one enough to recommend it but if you happen to pick it up I’d love to hear your thoughts.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars for this 2021 release 

Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur books for providing an advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinions and review.
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Netgalley Audiobook: 2.5 stars rounded up to 3

I very much enjoyed this audiobook! You never knew where it was going and the plot led you down some "fake trials." The narrator was spot on and a perfect choice. Thank you so much Netgalley for an ALC. I didn't care for the abrupt ending.
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“I didn’t want Fritz or Amelia to have a personal life separate from me. The further I burrowed myself into them, both of them, the less likely I’d ever have to return to my own existence. The less likely they could disentangle themselves from me.”

Delta Dawn is a skilled photographer for the NYC elite, snapping pics of their children’s birthday parties and family events. She has an uncanny ability to tweak the pictures in post production to portray what she thinks the parents want to see, altering facial expressions or gestures to create the “perfect” shot. Then she is hired to photograph Natalie Straub’s 11th birthday party and Delta decides that she 𝓷𝓮𝓮𝓭𝓼 to be part of this family. Will a set of perfectly photoshopped pictures give her the in she needs to infiltrate the Straub household? 

The Photographer gave me some 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴  The Hand That Rocks The Cradle vibes, but in the digital age. It is creepy, disturbing, and frightening, and Delta’s obsessive behavior had my hair standing on end. But her character was also a bit superficial. She’s deranged, yes, but there is no back story or in depth look into her psyche to explain why. I was fascinated by the descriptive elements of photoshop and how she used it both professionally (generally accepted) and personally (very stalkerish). I just wish that Delta had a little more depth, a bit more of an explanation for her deranged behavior. 

Overall this was an entertaining read, and I really enjoyed the authors narration of the story! I feel that authors bring a little something extra when they narrate their own books as they are more in the heads of the characters. 

Thank you to Netgalley, Minotaur and St Martin’s Press, and Macmillan Audio for these ARC’s in exchange for an honest review.
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I listened to the audiobook and it was fantastic! It’s read by the author herself and she did a great job. I even enjoyed the interview by Jennifer Hillier at the end. 

This is a slow burn psychological thriller. I can’t believe this is Mary Dixie Carter’s debut novel. It was creepy & disturbing. Delta is such a cringe-worthy character. I listened to this in one sitting and when it was over I just sat there thinking what did I just listen to. Not in a bad way. It’s hard to do the book justice because I still don’t know how I feel. I can’t wait to see what Mary Dixie Carter does next. If you love thrillers do yourself a favor and pick this one up! 

Thank you to Netgalley, St. Martin’s Press & Macmillan Audio for the ALC.
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I listened to the audiobook of this one and it was amazing with just the right amount of creepy on it.  The author read it herself and did an excellent job giving voice to Delta and the other characters that helped them come alive for me.   Her tone and mannerisms really matched the main character for me.

The story does take a bit of suspended belief at times.  And is a more than slightly disturbing look into the main characters head.  Delta Dawn is a photographer that specializes in taking pictures of children.  She has a much alluded to abusive childhood and some warped views on attachment.  She meets the Straubs when she photographs their daughters birthday party and before  she can leave their sitter canceled.  Because Delta felt such a strong connection she offers to babysit and instantly begins to edge her way into their lives.  It was fascinating to hear her perspective and rationalizations of her connection with them.  As she gets closer and closer it’s clear that photographs are not all Delta manipulates.  There were moments I had to pause and truly absorb the twisted things I was reading.
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The Photographer by @marydixiecarter is one of those books that you feel guilty about. You feel guilty for cringing at someone who clearly has some serious issues.  Delta Dawn, is hired to photograph the eleventh birthday party of Natalie Straub and soon becomes obsessed with her entire family.  With subtle manipulations and not so subtle machinations Delta manages to ingratiate her way into the Straub family's good graces. But she soon finds out that often things that develop in the dark are exposed in the light.

Delta is the books sole narrator and we only get her P.O.V for the entire book. This means we hear her spin on everyone and everything that happens. Delta though very smart and keenly observant as many photographers are, is not the most reliable narrator. Everything about the Straub family is filtered through her personal lens which is skewed to envious and obsessive. For lack of a better description, she falls in love with the Straub family and wants to become a part of it. She plays on the emotions of the entire family especially Amelia the wife and mother who desperately wants to adopt a baby.  

This book is at times funny, sad and tragic as you hear Delta talk about her sad upbringing and longing to become a cherished member of the Straub family.  Throughout the book you question the validity of everything that she is telling you.  Her daydreams are interspersed with reality in one big unhealthy amalgam.  Ultimately you feel sorry for a woman who never belonged to a real family and tries to claim one for her own.  

Thank you @Netgalley for giving me an ALC of this book.
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The Photographer is a slow-burn psychological thriller starring a professional photographer who envisions herself in her clients' lives.

Like, literally -- she secretly Photoshops herself into images she's taken of clients in intimate settings. And also does what she can to insinuate herself in their lives. 

This was a fast read for me, but I couldn't help feeling like it was missing something. I expected to be more creeped out than I was, or held in greater suspense. (This may be the result of reading a lot of thrillers -- it's possible others will get the creepy vibes more so than I did!)

Author Mary Dixie Carter did a great job painting main character Delta Dawn as understandable, despite her inappropriate behavior. Delta's targets were so unlikeable, perhaps that's why I didn't feel scared on their behalf? Looking forward to whatever Carter writes next; here's hoping for more drama or more of the "creep" factor (or both)!

I liked, but did not love, the audiobook narration. I don't think it was better or worse than reading the text -- it would have been great for the narration to add to the text (like I think Santino Fontana did for the You series). The narrator does come across as fairly egotistical, which seems appropriate for the protagonist.
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Rating: 7.0/10

Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance copy of The Photographer for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

Let’s just say Delta Dawn is Joe Goldberg turned up to 11. Carter’s debut will make your skin crawl, but it is warped, intoxicating fun.

This was an enjoyable psychological thriller where you have to suspend every single shred of belief you have. It’s like a ad without the background check, and also happens to be really good at photoshop. Every time I think back to the read, I shiver just a bit.

I get it: the Straub’s seem to have the picturesque family with a beautiful home and high-end lifestyle, so why wouldn’t you want to be apart of it? While Delta’s way of inserting herself into that life is rather… farfetched, it clearly worked. Once you begin to see the family dynamic, though, you’ll see why they are blind to her ambitions.

The only character I genuinely felt any remorse for throughout the read was Natalie, which is why Delta was so easily able to break into the family. She saw how Natalie was treated by her parents, as sort of an afterthought at times, and she was able to force herself right into the family through that chink in the armor. What happens next is a spiral into envy, obsession, and manipulation that Dawn somehow finds herself treading the finest of lines.

Overall, The Photographer is a smart, gripping read that may leave you thinking twice about that family photographer or babysitter. Go into it knowing that the story is completely unbelievable, but much like a car accident, is impossible to avert your eyes from. I love how the author is also the narrator, and Mary did a phenomenal job bringing Delta to life. Highly recommend going that route.
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Obsession taken to a whole new level!!!!!!
Mary Dixie Carter was amazing in narrating her own novel! Brilliantly done! 
Delta wants to be in Amelia and Fritz Straub’s home... And will do anything to be in that life! 
A quick page turner that you’ll get completely absorbed in from the first chapter!
Thanks Publishers and NetGalley for this gifted copy!
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**I was given a free copy of the audiobook ARC in return for an honest review.

Overall, the book moved quickly and efficiently through the story so that I was never bored or just trudging through. Since I had the audiobook version I cannot comment on typos or misspellings and even if I did since this is an ARC I would assume that would be fixed by the final edition. The Photographer was something that kept me guessing as to what the point was, mostly because the mind of the main character kept me looking for her point. Typically I have a good feel for the final outcome of a story, even if the details can be surprising. However, this book left me with a “Did that really happen,” moment.

*Possible spoilers

The Photographer is so cringe-worthy. Not because of a bad story or writing, it is the opposite. What I mean is that the writing was so well done that you really feel what is happening within the story. The cringe comes from the main character, who seems to make the most horrible choices possible for (lack of a better phrase) an average person. Beyond that, the way she treats her photography just screams, “I need a psychologist!” Even though I found the story cringe-worthy due to her choices, I would definitely suggest it to (psychological) thriller lovers.
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I enjoyed this one and will most likely get me a physical copy because it is well worth it..I want to read more from this writer
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