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With My Little Eye


With My Little Eye

Joshilyn Jackson, the New York Times bestselling author of NEVER HAVE I EVER, combines her trademark talent for crafting domestic suspense with a ripped-from-the-headlines premise about an actress and her stalker in WITH MY LITTLE EYE.

“I never thought I was famous enough to get murdered,” says Meribel Mills, the almost-40-year-old actress whose big break came almost 20 years ago when she played a mean girl on the sitcom “Belinda’s World.” Since then, she has earned a decent living --- good enough to buy a quadplex; adopt a bright, curious little girl with autism; and continue to get callbacks despite the unfortunate truth that hitting 40 will mean a significant drop in her income.

"Perfect for fans of Stephanie Wrobel, Meg Mitchell Moore and Robyn Harding, WITH MY LITTLE EYE is another solid release from an author who never disappoints."

But one year ago, Meribel got the shock of her life when she began receiving creepy “fan letters,” first to her agent’s office and then to her own home. The letters, always signed “Soon,” detail the numerous terrifying and hair-raising ways her stalker would like to be with her. But it isn’t until Meribel starts to notice that items in her house have been moved and the strange scent of cologne lingering in her bedroom that she realizes just how much danger she and her now-12-year-old daughter, Honor, are in. When she gets an offer for a recurring role set to be filmed in Atlanta, she takes the leap, even if it means returning to a state so ugly to her that she won’t even accept layovers there.

Back in Atlanta, Meribel is forced to acknowledge the ugly truth of her past: straight out of college, she married the love of her life, but the marriage fell apart when she could not carry a pregnancy to term. Too shattered by her loss, Meribel asked her mother to handle the divorce and booked a ticket to Los Angeles, thereby kickstarting her career. She has not spoken to her ex-husband in years, but --- like so many of us --- she has engaged in her own form of stalking, checking the very public profiles of his new wife late at night. The idea that she will be back in his hometown where she may run into him, his wife or any of his three kids is terrifying but also strangely alluring. After all, she feels like she knows them. But she’s not a real stalker, not like the person she has nicknamed “Marker Man” for his use of childish scented markers in every letter.

At first, Atlanta seems like a change for the better. Meribel has made a friend in her complex, Cooper, who is dealing with a recent breakup and has no interest in anything romantic. They share some terrific banter…until she gets the sense once again that she is being watched. How could Marker Man have found her here? Or was he always in Atlanta? Is it her ex-husband, jilted by the way she ended their marriage and angry that she has ignored him? Or is it Cam, the vaguely shady (but very, ahem, passionate in other ways) lover she dumped just before moving? Or is it someone else entirely, someone far scarier than an estranged ex-husband or jealous ex-boyfriend?

Alternating between Meribel, Cooper, Honor and other supporting characters, Jackson weaves a riveting work of domestic suspense with an eerie, YOU-like villain. As always, she plays into common, everyday actions and tropes and then cranks up the tension to throw the mirror onto her readers. In one hauntingly astute line, Meribel notes, “The difference between stalking and courtship is so thin. It all depends on if the person likes you back.” A truth that smarts, for sure, but one that Jackson plays with beautifully.

As Marker Man creeps closer and closer to Meribel, she can't help but notice that the men in her life --- her ex-husband, her ex-boyfriend and now her neighbor/potential future boyfriend --- are all a hair off too. Where she once had no suspects, she now has three too many. As the lies and actions of everyone around her start to collide and intertwine, she finds herself in her greatest role yet: that of a mother who will do anything to protect her family.

Jackson's books are pure escapism but are still clever enough to make you feel as if you’ve really sunk your teeth into something masterful. She is capable of writing tension that is so thick you could cut it with a knife into even her most mundane scenes, and that is on perfect display here. That said, Jackson plays a bit too much with perspective to give any of her main perspectives her full attention, which results in a few loose ends. Some of these are easy to ignore, if only because her writing is so clean and crisp, and her signature sense of humor is incorporated so effortlessly into the narrative. One point of view where Jackson soars is that of Honor, whose striking, original voice and love of rules and order make her a real highlight of the story.

Perfect for fans of Stephanie Wrobel, Meg Mitchell Moore and Robyn Harding, WITH MY LITTLE EYE is another solid release from an author who never disappoints.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on April 28, 2023

With My Little Eye
by Joshilyn Jackson