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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

The Photographer, Mary Dixie Carter: A Review

I love a good unlikable protagonist, so when I read the summary for The Photographer, I was really looking forward to diving in. Delta Dawn loves her job as a photographer, but not as much as she loves the Straub family. After being hired to shoot their daughter's birthday party, Delta becomes determined to ingratiate herself into the family--one way or another.

This was an unsettling read. It took me a minute to get used to Delta's voice. The writing was clear and readable, but there's almost a shield around Delta, where even though it's told in the first person POV, it feels like we're limited in our knowledge--that Delta's hiding the truth from herself, as well as the Straubs. I never had a solid handle on who she was, what her end goal was, or what her motivations could be. Her backstory is limited, vague, or edited. Without flashbacks to rely on, all we can trust it what she tells us. And that is nothing. Carter did a wonderful job building her up as an unhinged photographer. She sees details. She's good at what she does. But she is also too observant, filling in the blanks and inserting herself into situations because her job is to create a story. The line between truth and fiction quickly becomes blurred. The Straubs were dysfunctional and presumptuous, and pretty much everyone in this story is unlikable in some way, shape, or form. However, the exploration of loneliness, of wanting to feel connected--these themes were layered in every character. How far would you go to make a friend? How would you prove your love? Where is the line between healthy pursuit of relationships and a dangerous obsession? Overall, The Photographer is a quick, unnerving read that will definitely make you question boundaries. For fans of Kepnes' You, stalker narratives, or Servant, add The Photographer to your TBRs. Big thanks to Minotaur and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.


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