Cover Image: Real Easy

Real Easy

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Member Reviews

Vaguely reminiscent of an HBO series, in that every time a character starts to grow on you, she ends up getting picked off. Also the setting wasn't ideal for me, though it is an important element of the story.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

Real Easy is a dark, gripping, and character-driven thriller that takes you back to 1999 and into the lives of several people connected by a murder and a missing person case. The story revolves around Samantha, a stripper who disappears after driving home a new coworker, and Holly, a detective who is determined to find her and solve the mystery. Along the way, we meet other strippers, club workers, customers, children, and the killer, each with their own perspective and secrets.

The author, Marie Rutkoski, skillfully weaves a complex and compelling plot that keeps you guessing and engaged. The characters are realistic and nuanced, each with their own struggles and motivations. The setting of the strip club and the surrounding area is vividly portrayed, showing the harsh realities and the hidden beauty of the people who work there. The narration by Eva Kaminsky is superb, capturing the different voices and emotions of the characters.

Real Easy is a must-read for fans of psychological thrillers, especially those who enjoy multiple viewpoints, cold cases, and strong female characters. It is the debut novel for adults by Marie Rutkoski, who is also the bestselling author of several books for children and young adults.

If you are looking for a thrilling and immersive read that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions, you won't regret picking up Real Easy.

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5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was fantastic!

Set in a 90’s strip club - Lovely Lady - this is one dark, disturbing and super atmospheric read. I loved it!

There is someone targeting the dancers who work at Lovely Lady. Lots of possible suspects in this one. It was super fast paced and kept me guessing to the end. I loved the multiple POVs - we learn the backgrounds of the dancers and their family members, police officers and club patrons. The author using her experiences as a dancer really gave the reader an appreciation for what that life is like - whether they are familiar or not.

Highly recommend!

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I thought the setting was fantastic. I've never read a thriller set in a strip club, and you could tell there was real experience behind this part of the novel. There was also a fair amount of depth to these characters as well. The writing at times was excellent. The author was obviously going for a spare but lyrical literary style, and she pulled it off much of the time. At other times, not so much- some of her metaphors were downright hilarious and she made use of some questionable verbs in an attempt to be original.

The police procedure was very well researched and believable, but the cops were out of casting 101.

The ending was disappointing. No thrill, no real twist, not much pay off. Finishing the book was a bit of a chore, but still I found 70% of this book interesting and enjoyable as far as thrillers go. And, as I said, I had never read a book set in a strip club and think that was an original and great idea.

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This was an absolute pleasure to read. I kept telling myself one more chapter and before I knew I was practically done. This was a compelling, complex, and fun read. I became heavily involved with the characters and invested in the situation and couldn't imagine the outcome.


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A huge Marie Rutkoski fan, I knew I'd love this and I was right. Raw, smart, tender, and authentic, this queer story is up there among my faves.

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Thank you Netgalley and Henry Holt & Company for a copy of Real Easy by Marie Rutkoski, in exchange for an honest review.

Real Easy follows the story of Samantha at the tail end of the 90's. She's a dancer who is on her grind but also dealing with a lot of drama behind the scenes at her club. As the story progresses, we get the different POV's from other dancers at the club.

Rutkoski is a former dancer herself and she weaves intricate stories of these very different dancers and the hardships and murder mysteries that they are put through.

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I did not see those plot twists coming!! What a great book, loved the characters, loved how real the scenes felt.. Loved it!

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I need this to be made into a limited TV series immediately. The story unfolds through multiple characters’ POVs and I could see this working so well if it was narrowed down to a few less narrators, with each given an episode, a bit like Netflix’s *Clickbait*.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of different perspectives here and some readers might find it difficult to keep the characters straight, especially at first. One of the strengths of the book for me however was how unique and individual the voices and backgrounds were for each narrator, so that did help once I “got to know” everyone. I can’t speak to the authenticity of the dancers’ world (though I do believe the author was writing from experience), but the law enforcement side, particularly the banter, was spot on. I truly felt like I was reading about real, fully fleshed out characters, which was refreshing in this genre. Also refreshing was reading a book set in a strip club that didn’t treat the dancers some kind of “way”. You know what I mean… patronizing and condescending, judgmental, fetishistic, etc. They were just women, some of whom are better people than others.

The actual crime/mystery is the weakest point. You’ll probably figure out the culprit long before the reveal. This is really more of a character study with murder as a jumping off point for the story. I don’t mind that, it’s the hallmark of one of my favorite authors (Tana French), but it’s just something to be aware of going in. If you’re hoping for lots of twists and thrills, this isn’t the book you’re looking for.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to seeing what else Rutkoski does now that she’s branched out into adult fiction.

Many thanks to Henry Holt & Company for a copy of this book for review, as well as many apologies for my delay in posting my thoughts.

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So so story about a kidnapping and a mystery set in then90’s with the backdrop of a strip club. I didn’t really grow attached to any of the characters so I didn’t really care much about what was going on. Just not a good fit for me.

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Real Easy is a phenomenal thriller from start to finish. Filled to the brim with twists and a captivating plot, this one is sure to keep readers hooked. The characters are well-developed. The story is incredibly fast-paced. This is one not to be missed! Highly recommended! Be sure to check out Real Easy now.

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Fantastic thriller. I really enjoyed this one tremendously and thought it was well written and plotted.

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I enjoyed this book so much! There is mystery, heartache, and tragedy. I love how the author goes into the backstories of characters in all aspects of the storyline. The character arcs are sweet and bittersweet. Overall it was a very heavy but enjoyable read!

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Was interested in this because it was a mystery with a strip club setting. Did not care for the 10+ point of views. This made it hard to connect/care for the characters.  And this just felt like the stories dragged.  This one just didn't do it for me suspense and all.

Check TW: gaslighting, drugs, kidnapping, death, sexual abuse and more.

Thank you NetGalley and publishers for this ebook for an honest review

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Travel back to 1999 and enter the dark world of strippers during that time. I loved this book! Marie writes from her former exotic dancer POV, which makes it even more powerful. There were some topics that may be triggering for readers. A solid read!

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I’ve had this book on my TBR for too long. I had so many starts and stops that I knew I couldn’t be fair to it when the review was due. Since then, I’ve gotten over my aversion to the subject matter (strip clubs) and multiple narrators. I had to read other reviews (mostly favorable) to get back into reading. I did mostly enjoy it and I need to be fair to it and the author, so I’m rating it at 3.5 stars.

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AMAZING writing skills and I was kind of surprised that I have enjoyed this book more than I thought I would! Dark and edgy and everything in the book is so detailed as if you are part of the book and know the insight to everything

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The synopsis of this story really spoke to me and I was interested to find out how this book would unfold. I was pleasantly surprised with the book and especially the characters! I really enjoyed it.

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Utterly thrilling and fantastic. Dark, edgy, and every page filled with fabulous writing that you will be unable to put this book down until the very end, and even after that, you will want more. I love this author, and I will ALWAYS read everything she writes, and I recommend her to everyone.

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Marie Rutkoski knows the world of exotic dancers because she used to be one. Working as a stripper in her 20s to help pay for higher education, Rutkoski garnered plenty of fodder for her later adult novel debut Real Easy, a book about a series of murders revolving around a strip club in the late 90s. Real Easy is an “own voices” novel of a different sort, not detailing a marginalized author’s personal experiences based on their race, disability, or sexual orientation, but rather on their career. Rutkoski lends her experience to this story to create a dark, gritty, and authentic tale of power, lust, and fear.

The year is 1999 and someone is killing strippers. Samantha and her fellow dancers at the Lovely Lady have been hearing rumors that a recently murdered sex worker was only able to be identified by the serial number on her implants. Needless to say they are all spooked. Much to her horror, Samantha finds herself coming up against the killer when she gives the new girl at work a ride home, launching an investigation that strives to uncover the murderer’s sinister plot.

Real Easy is a book that I have strong feeling about because it is such a mixed bag. The novel starts off incredibly strong, following Samantha through her nights working at the Lovely Lady, and details what life is like as a sex worker. Samantha, a wholly intriguing character in her own right, was written with such voice and spirit, and I was excited to follow her throughout this novel. Until I realized that I wasn’t. Following her, that is, because the book soon switches perspective to another character, and another, and continues to follow this pattern throughout the rest of the novel. We receive the POV of every person who has an iron in the fire, and what results is a confusing amalgamation of narratives that is often difficult to follow. Because I was listening to an audiobook production of this novel, I found myself lost several times, not fully realizing that the story had switched perspective. This isn’t at the fault of narrator Eva Kaminsky, who does a fine job of telling this story, but rather because there wasn’t much distinction written into the voices of the various characters.

Rutkoski showcases her talent in Real Easy, and she obviously has the skills to write a compelling story; I just wish that she had focused her novel on fewer characters, providing a more intimate tale of lust and murder. As it stands, Real Easy is still a good book, albeit one that isn’t the easiest to follow.

Recommended to fans of Ivy Pochoda’s These Women.

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