You’d Look Better as a Ghost

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Buy on Amazon Buy on Buy on
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 21 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 22 Sep 2023

Talking about this book? Use #YoudLookBetterasaGhost #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


'A welcome addition to darkly humorous female serial killer novels' - GUARDIAN 'Refreshingly original and laugh-out-loud funny' - CLARE MACKINTOSH 'Delightfully shocking and irreverently funny' - JANICE HALLETT I have a gift. I see people as ghosts before they die. Of course, it helps that I'm the one killing them. The night after her father's funeral, Claire meets Lucas in a bar. Lucas doesn't know it, but it's not a chance meeting. One thoughtless mistyped email has put him in the crosshairs of an extremely put-out serial killer. But even before they make eye contact, before Claire lets him buy her a drink, before she takes him home and carves him up into little pieces, something about that night is very wrong. Because someone is watching Claire. Someone who is about to discover her murderous little hobby. The thing is, it's not sensible to tangle with a part-time serial killer, even one who is distracted by attending a weekly bereavement support group and trying to get her art career off the ground. Claire will do anything to keep her secret hidden - not to mention the bodies buried in her garden. Let the games begin... Dexter meets Killing Eve in this superb thriller, perfect for fans of How To Kill Your Family and My Sister, the Serial Killer. 'I doubt I'll read a more original thriller this year' - JACK JORDAN 'If Bret Easton Ellis ever went to grief counselling, this would be just the kind of brilliant book he'd write' - PHILIPPA EAST

'A welcome addition to darkly humorous female serial killer novels' - GUARDIAN 'Refreshingly original and laugh-out-loud funny' - CLARE MACKINTOSH 'Delightfully shocking and irreverently funny' -...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781800811294
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Send to Kindle (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 132 members

Featured Reviews

Claire is one of the few serial killer that I quite like, although I wouldn't like to upset her. The 'Then' chapters give an insight into her life beforehand, and her mother was a horrible, horrible character.

There's lots happening throughout, so there's no lull in the action. I was surprised by the ending, which after guessing lots of twists in other books was a good surprise. I'll definitely be looking out for more Joanna Wallace books in the future.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this book, Joanna Wallace is a great author.
The story follows Claire who is a killer I disagree with the reviews that think the killings are too gruesome. Overall I could give this book five stars and more!!
Thank you for the opportunity to read this - thanks to the publisher and Netgalley.
I hope that this book is phenomenally successful!

Was this review helpful?

Wow what a book thank you ever so much for the opportunity to review. I could not put it down. Would definitely recommend to others

Was this review helpful?

A well written, fast-moving novel that keeps you hanging on with bated breath as Claire goes about her business of killing. There are many surprises and twists and turns in this shock filled story, that culminate in a wonderful ending. I thoroughly enjoyed this five-star novel and recommend it to all crime and thriller readers.

Was this review helpful?

I love the originality of this book and the approach it took. I was enthralled by the story and had to keep reading.

Was this review helpful?

You'd Look Better As A Ghost is by far one of my favourite recent reads. Firstly, what a fantastic title - from the moment I discovered it, I knew I had to read it! The lead character Claire is written with so much attention to detail - she's super savage and the author has captured her psyche brilliantly. She reminded me slightly of Joe from the series, You. She's such a credible character and despite the darkness within her, the reader is always on her side because she's funny and just raw with honesty. At no point did I guess where the outcome of this book would lead. Fans of Death of a Bookseller should definitely read this!

I'm unashamed to say that I was all-consumed by this book. It's thoroughly entertaining and I will be keeping my eyes peeled for what Joanna Wallace writes next!

Was this review helpful?

Serial killer point-of-view books are becoming their own popular subgenre in the thriller-horror axis. Probably most famous is You by Caroline Kepnes, an amazing series of books, I would argue better than their well-known Netflix adaptations. But the subgenre has been growing, perhaps starting out with Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates, and running all the way up to this latest submission from Joanna Wallace. The surprising things about this subgenre is its capacity to not only horrify, but be funny. This is a tightrope Wallace walks to perfection.

You’d Look Better As a Ghost is told from the perspective of Claire, an artist who tends to take frustrations out of her grudges in imaginative and fatal ways. When Claire determines to kill a man who mistakenly told her she had won an art prize, Claire finds herself embroiled in a blackmail conspiracy bizarrely centred around a retirement home. The fiasco makes her start to question her murderous impulses.

This is an unlikely mystery novel. The premise is deepest darkest horror, and there is gore and sadism here — Claire can at times be a chilling narrator. But this book genre bends in unexpected ways when the heart of the story turns out to be a mystery. For all Claire is an excellent serial killer, she’s not the best detective. Although in fairness, the turn is delivered in a way I certainly didn’t expect!

And beyond the genre fiction, this book actually has quite an important message — something else I don’t necessarily expect from a book about a serial killer. Claire may lack empathy for almost everyone, but she also has an inherent (sometimes skewed) sense of justice. Her father recently died of Alzheimer’s, and Claire accordingly develops a righteous fury about the treatment of the elderly and infirm. Following her father’s death, Claire also joins a bereavement support group, and has some interesting thoughts on grief and handling it that might not be recommended for everyone.

You’d Look Better As a Ghost is recommended for anyone who likes a healthy dose of pitch-black humour with their horror. Fans of Kepnes will have a good time here, as will readers of Joe Hill or Grady Hendrix.

Was this review helpful?

Wow, this book was such a funky read. I definitely compare this great read to the series You – I felt such a connection to Claire, I didn’t want her getting caught for her extracurricular activities!

Joanna’s characterisation of Claire was on point for me. Although Claire’s a little strange, her thoughts, interactions and memories made her seem like a completely normal person, which actually led to me being on Claire’s side and convincing myself that all of her victims deserved it (which, come on, most of them did!). Joanna’s writing style was perfect for this novel.

I didn’t expect the twists and turns in this novel, but this was the part which really shone for me. I loved all of the connections which unfolded and the part blackmailing played in it, it was really ingenious. I’m really tempted to re-read this book already to see all of the hints I missed originally.

I would definitely recommend giving this novel a read if this is your style when it’s published. I haven’t read anything like this before and really appreciated its uniqueness. I’m not sure if Joanna has published her work before, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for her name!

Thank you again to Joanna Wallace, Rachel Quinn, Viper Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Told from the point of view of serial killer Claire we follow her life as she attends a grief support group following the recent death of her father – Who she didn’t kill, and are there with her every step of the way as she murders those who she thinks deserve her harsh punishment.

We also go back in time to when Claire was a youngster and see where her rage began and watch as she becomes quite unhinged.

For a book about a serial killer, You’d Look Better as a Ghost has plenty of humorous moments and is quite light-hearted. It may also make you feel sorry for our murderous protagonist, especially after delving into her past.

The plot flowed naturally and was easy to follow and had me hooked from the beginning. There were quite a lot of characters but as you can imagine some don’t last very long. There was also a predicament with someone who knew her little secret, though I did expect this to play out longer than it did.

Overall, You’d Look Better as a Ghost was entertaining and had me giggling in places. It is certainly quite dark and seductive too. Original, deadly, funny, twisty, surprising, and sarcastic, this is a 2023 must-read.

Was this review helpful?

I would thoroughly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys their books a little darker than usual.

This was thrilling and a little gruesome but I loved it!

Was this review helpful?

I love a “good” serial killer and as such, I loved Claire! There definitely are some people in this world that deserve their comeuppance and without the likes of Dexter and Claire where would we be 😜
This definitely has to be one of my favourite darker reads. It’s a great holiday read and an easy 5⭐️ rating.

Was this review helpful?

Rating: 4.5/5

Warning! If you are of faint heart, are easily offended, or have a dislike of fiercely dark humour, then this probably isn't going to be the book for you. Otherwise, I would heartily recommend that you grab yourself a copy of Joanna Wallace's debut novel and spend a few hours in the company of her creation, Claire.

If you are familiar with "Sweetpea" by C.J. Skuse then it will be impossible not to make comparisons and draw parallels with that novel when you read this. In fact, ever since Luke Jennings's creation, Villanelle, found an approving wider audience through the tv series "Killing Eve" there seems to have been an increase in the number of books featuring a strong female character with a penchant for killing people. It may now have actually reached the point where darkly humorous thrillers featuring a female serial killer has become a sub-genre in its own right.

In addition to the aforementioned "Sweetpea" series, in recent times I have also read Katy Brent's (very good) "How to Kill Men and Get Away With it" and Julie Mae Cohen's (good, but not great) "Bad Men", which both have similar themes. Working on the basis that this is now indeed a sub-genre rather than writers simply copying the idea of another author, I would have to say that Joanna Wallace has produced something that ranks above most of the other offerings in this category.

"You'd Look Better as a Ghost" is a mightily impressive debut that works wonderfully well - right from its unexpected, intriguing and discomfiting opening, all the way through to its suitably satisfying conclusion. In common with some of the other books I have mentioned, the narrative is packed with highly entertaining dark and acerbic humour, but it also raises its share of serious social issues. However, where I feel that Joanna Wallace's novel has the edge over some of its female-serial-killer-contemporaries is that it successfully addresses a backstory for the lead character, interweaves various background mystery elements and manages to create other wonderfully engaging protagonists other than just the central figure of Claire. There are astute observations, clever and unexpected plot developments, some gorgeously effective underplay and lots of highly amusing references to clichés than run throughout the narrative.

I believe that Joanna Wallace has signed a two book deal with Viper and I am very much looking forward to reading her next offering.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for supplying an ARC in return for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

"You'd Look Better As A Ghost" left an indelible mark on me as a reader. From its captivating title to the intricate narrative, every aspect is masterfully crafted. Claire, the lead character, is a force to be reckoned with—her fierce demeanor and complex psyche are portrayed with remarkable depth. The shades of darkness within her character are balanced by a raw honesty that makes her relatable and even endearing. The story's unpredictability kept me engaged, never knowing where it would lead.

The book's allure is in its ability to weave humor and darkness seamlessly, a trait reminiscent of characters like Joe from "You." Claire's journey becomes a rollercoaster of emotions, and I found myself constantly rooting for her, drawn to her authenticity.

The this book consumed me completely and I couldn't guess the outcome for even a second, which is something that doesn't happen often with me and thrillers. If you're seeking a gripping read that blurs the lines between light and shadow, "You'd Look Better As A Ghost" is an excellent choice.

Was this review helpful?

A captivating and engaging story of murder, grief, suspense, lies, kidnap, abuse and it's effects.

Claire is an excellent protagonist and as the bodies start to pile up around her, we really root for her not to be caught.

I loved how the author cleverly builds suspense as we wonder who has been watching Claire and may be on to her.

There is also humour sprinkled throughout and plenty of plot points I didn't anticipate.

Claire's own backstory is cleverly interwoven with the main narrative and we gain an understanding as to why she has evolved in to a killer.

I thought the idea of Claire being at a bereavement support group was genius as even though she doesn't process her emotions in the same way as say a neurotypical person, it does provide her an outlet, useful connections and also serves as a cover for her.


Was this review helpful?

What a great debut!
The comparisons to "Killing Eve" ring very true especially regarding fashion, but the author has made Claire her own woman, and has the reader rooting for the anti- hero. While it is an enjoyable, easy read the author also has has some profound things to say about grief and the invisibility of older people, particularly those with dementia, and it was no surprise to read that the author had faced these in her own life.
I look forward to many more books by Ms Wallace
Thank you to netgalley and serpents tail/viper/profile books for an advance copy of this book

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and Serpent's Tail / Viper for my approval to read and review this book.

Claire joins a bereavement group following the death of her father, which leads to things that you will not expect. Claire as a character was one that I didn't want to like but throughout the book, I started to go from hate to love. She is a serial killer. There are some chapters which swing from the present to the past. This gives you an opportunity to learn about the child, Claire, and how she came about as an adult. There are some laugh out loud moments within the book and moments where you will gasp out loud. All in all, I I really enjoyed this book and I will be recommending this book to my book friends

Was this review helpful?

A really great and fun read. I loved the characters and the story. Will look out for more from this author.

Was this review helpful?

Ever since she was a child, Claire has seen people as ghosts before they die.

Claire meets Lucas in a bar, the night after her Dad’s funeral.

Claire takes Lucas back to her house and kills him, but what she doesn’t realise is that someone is watching her and knows what she’s done.

This is a compelling and different kind of read. I enjoyed seeing the pieces of the puzzle come together.

There were some real laugh out loud moments, as well as true darkness.

I came to like Claire and didn’t want her to get caught! The characters throughout the book were relatable. I enjoyed the twists along the way.

I hope to read more from this author.

My thanks to NetGalley and Viper Books for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and never would have thought that I’d be rooting for a serial killer!
This is an original novel covering child and elder abuse, grief, loss and dementia and somehow manages to be extremely humorous as well. The final twist was unexpected to say the least. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this - there seems to be a real trend of dark crime novels since Bella Mackies (which, btw I thought was, fine)

I thought this was brilliant and enjoyed the flipflop between the old days and now, ultimately knowing how it was going to end....

Enjoyed the dark humour in this book and whizzed through it!

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this thriller with added black comedy .Such a great read, completely bonkers ,a serial killer who thinks she is normal ! Full of twists and turns a very enjoyable unique read .Look forward to reading the next book from this Author .Thank you to NetGalley for my ARC .

Was this review helpful?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its very dark humour and dry wit. When I tried to describe it to my husband he thought it all sounded rather revolting: a serial killer who kills without remorse but has a unique way of picking her victims because they themselves aren’t good people and then linking each death to the victim’s initial crime. I really loved the thought processes Claire goes through in what to most people would be normal situations and conversations, some of which made me laugh out loud - but maybe I’m a bit weird! I’ll be looking out for more books by this talented author..

Was this review helpful?

The writing was light and drew me in. It was in what I would describe as a "chatty style" with the main character speaking to the reader. We were told her thoughts and reasons for acting the way that she did. The whole story was from her point of view, which was interesting. I also liked that every so often there would be a couple of paragraphs that took place in the main character's past, specifically when she was a child. You could easily tell when we were in the past because the font was in italics. This helped to give the reader more of a background to the character. The book had a good flow to it and kept my interest. I think that going back in time added to the intrigue.

The chapters were long which meant that you got a good chunk of the story before moving on. The story never dragged and I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

The main character was excellent. I haven't read about anyone quite like her, and the way that it was written allowed you to see things from her point of view, which was interesting. The supporting cast of characters were also good and highlighted the main character's personality well. The other characters added to the suspense of the story. You never knew quite where you stood with them.

Lastly the settings. These were very much in the background as it was a character focused story. I didn't mind though as I was enjoying being on the main character's journey.

Overall a great story full of suspense.

Was this review helpful?

What devilishly and delicious book this is.
You'd Look Better as a Ghost has some amazing dark humour and fantastic cliches from the main protagonist Claire.
But Claire has a secret that no one knows about. She is a prolific serial killer! And what ever you do never ever queue jump in front of her because you might just come to a very sticky end!

After the death of her father Claire seeks out a bereavement support group, this is were she meets group leader Florence and the rest of the group who all have stories to tell. But one person in particular seeks Claire out, Jemma who has recently lost her mother.
But who is Jemma and what link does she have to do with Claire's recent kill Lucas?
Poor Lucas he really should have double checked the email address before accidentally sending it to Claire.
I loved this book and the characters especially Claire even though she is completely unhinged.
This is definitely one of my top reads of 2023.

Was this review helpful?

You’d Look Better as a Ghost follows Claire, a serial killer who has start to get suspicious that somebody may be close to finding her out.

I went into this book not really knowing much about the plot and I think that’s the best way to do it! It’s so brilliant - funny and sharp, and really does have you rooting for a cold blooded killer.

It’s told between present day and flashbacks so you can start to piece together why Claire is the way she is which is a really interesting aspect of the book, and contrasted really well with the more funny, quick-witted present day extracts where she fights with her inner monologue and kills people off left, right and centre.

I loved Claire as a character - she is completely awful and kills a LOT of people but I was rooting for her and I actively didn’t want her to get caught.

I’m sure it’ll be compared to How To Kill Your Family but I think it can very much stand on its own. A seriously impressive debut, and i’m looking forward to read whatever Joanna Wallace does next!

Was this review helpful?

Brilliant book with a very likeable main character that you just have to love even if she's a serial killer!!

This is one of those books that is amazing because of the main character, with the plot playing a second role, although in this case, the plot was also very entertaining!

The writer did a great job of taking the reader where they pleased, so that all the twists and turns were overlooked and came as a real surprise.

We follow the story of serial killer Claire just after her dad died, and the start of her journey into grief as she joins a bereavement group.. The death of her dad is in a way what starts a series of events that will jeopardise the anonymity of her pastime. Will she be able to keep everything under control or will her grief push her to become someone else?

I can't recommend this read enough, full of wit and really really funny, it's certain to entertain, as well as pause for a thought here and there. I don't feel ashamed in saying that I laughed even when I knew I shouldn't have, as I agreed a lot with Claire's thoughts!

One of my favourite quotes:
" 'The funny thing is...' I stop listening. When ordinary people feel the need to announce how funny a thing is, the only thing you can be sure of is that the thing will not be funny at all."

Thanks to Netgalley and Serpent's Tail - Viper Books for the opportunity to read it and this is my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This was such a fun book to read but since I finished it, it's become a slight nightmare to me in trying to figure out how to describe it without repeating the synopsis or giving away spoilers but I think I figured it out!
Claire is not a normal thriller reader's killer/narrator, those are normally totally unreliable but Claire is very honest to us readers, she's possibly the most open of all the characters we meet and tells us why she does what she does and I have to admit that although I really wouldn't do what she did, at least one of them and you will know which one when you read this book, did deserve what Claire did to him!
I did find the story arc very entertaining and engaging, it kept me interested and turning the pages. Hearing about Claire's younger days was a nice insight into who she was and perhaps a view of why she may have become what she is. All of the characters were really well drawn so they fit into the rolls the author assigned them well making me either root for them or suspect them as was needed.
There was a nice twist in the latter part of the book that I really didn't see coming. If you fancy a slightly different feel good read, give this one a go, you will be entertained!

Was this review helpful?

What a great book! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and devoured it in one evening, I just didn’t want to put it down! I found myself rooting for the main character throughout, despite the fact she is a serial killer. Her character was well developed and I loved that the book was written by her point of view.

A credit to Wallace’s writing is that I had moments where I was in pure shock and others when I was laughing out loud. The plot was really well developed with so many twists and turns that were unexpected which I loved. The addition of mental health, care settings and dementia were also portrayed so realistically and importantly factually correct - I find this really crucial when reading due to my work and personal experiences and it made the book more authentic.

If you love thrillers and dark humour this is the perfect read and one I really do recommend! If you enjoyed Sweetpea, this would also be enjoyable read.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you so much for the opportunity to read “You’d look better as a ghost”

Brilliant read! I stayed up far too late and read this in 2 sittings, I was so engrossed.
Claire is a great character, disturbing but also really funny.
Love the perspective from Claire and the “Then” chapters.

You will not regret reading this book! I’ve already been recommending it!

Was this review helpful?

A very dark and twisted novel with a very likeable female lead.
Claire has grown up with a very hostile mother, she is a bully and abusive woman, who treats both her husband and young daughter disgracefully. The story starts with Claire at a support group for the recently bereaved, her beloved father has recently died. She is angry, and grief is taking the form of a desire to kill, but her choice of victims is discriminating, she does have a sort of code of honour. Her exploits are by turn sympathetic and vindictive, the readers emotions are pulled in all directions.
Some cruelty should be punished, do extreme crimes demand the final penalty? There is humour, black of course, but this is an interesting and very thoughtful read, quite empowering at times, it is also surprising to care so much about Claire, the flashbacks about her mother help to set the scene and explains so much about her behaviour and deadly purpose in life. Is Nature or Nurture responsible?
If Claire was your friend, you wouldn’t want to upset her! There is blackmail, deception and numerous bodies to pursue, a really fast paced and very entertaining book. Highly recommend this as a five star read.
My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers Serpents tail/ Viper/ Profile, for my advance digital copy, freely given in exchange for my unbiased review. I will leave reviews to Goodreads and Amazon UK.

Was this review helpful?

Claire isn’t your average artist. Straight after the death of her beloved Dad, she gets an email to say her painting had been shortlisted for a prize…only to be told later, there has been a mistake and they have emailed the wrong artist. What’s a girl to do? Claire knows; she will find the culprit and add their body to the rest buried under her vegetable patch.

You’d Look Better As A Ghost is a great addition to the serial killer genre and it’s written in such an entertaining way. Claire is so witty, I chuckled my way through the book, especially at the bereavement group sessions. I found myself rooting for her, weird as that may be. I liked the mystery in the latter part of the book. I found the whole “ghost” part of the plot a bit vague. I felt like I needed more detail to flesh (sorry, awful pun) the idea out a bit more. But I really enjoyed the observations Claire made about “ordinary” people, humorous and often apt. I thought the ending was brilliant, totally satisfying and the better than the other books I’ve read in the genre.

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an opportunity to review as advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Oh my goodness, I’ve laughed out loud at this book! Think Eleanor Oliphant meets Villanelle and meet serial killer Claire, and what a brilliant character she is! I loved her warped sense of humour, her quirky personality, her comments and observations about normal life. Who’d guess you could love a serial killer so much! Great plot line too, certainly has quite a few surprises! And some great supporting characters. I’ve not been able to put this one down.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for a review.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: