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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Influencer: A Short Story


Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Publication Date: 10/27/2022

Format: e-book and audiobook

Narrators: Hillary Huber, Patrick Lawlor

My Rating: 5 Stars +++

Insta-fame has deadly repercussions in a timely short story of dark psychological suspense by New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard.

Tammy Partridge and her boyfriend, Kevin, are on a photo-ready road trip across America in pursuit of influencer fame.

Only a couple hundred followers so far, including Roxanne, a superfan of the beautiful young couple.

But when Tammy’s body is discovered in the Utah wilderness, and Kevin is nowhere to be found, the picture-perfect adventure suddenly goes wrong—and viral, with three million followers and counting.

Motives are questionable. Conspiracy theories cloud the dark corners of the internet. As everyone spins their own version of the truth, reality is getting harder to see.

Except for Roxanne, who’s been following closer than anyone else.

My Review

I have told everyone about this book. I LOVED this book! From the stunning front cover to every page, character, and twist, it was TOPS! THE INFLUENCER exceeded all my expectations and more.

A brilliantly crafted psychological suspense thriller with a twist!

CAPTIVATING! All you true-crime Gabby fans, this is a MUST-READ! What are you waiting for? It is free if you are an Amazon prime member.

Living in South Florida, this is all we heard. I was obsessed with the true-crime Gabby Petito/Brian Laundrie murder case. Nothing about it was right, especially with Brian, his family, and the attorney.

Of course, we could not believe the case's outcome and could not wait for someone to retell it so we could get a better, more believable ending—justice for Gabby.

The perfect author to tell his story would be Joyce Maynard! I am a huge fan and have read all her books. Let me say it was SUPERB! Well done!

In addition, I am also a fan of the female narrator, Hillary Huber, and when I discovered this e-book was coming out with accompanying audio, I could not wait for the pub date! Of course, I dropped everything the day it came out and listened/read in one sitting. Hillary and Patrick Lawlor did an outstanding job for all voices.

Ok, Gabby fans and victims of domestic violence, you will DEVOUR Maynard's take. This is exactly the way I would have imagined the scenario of the camping cross country going bad. I could not have told it better. Every single action was perfect the way Joyce wrote this. It was hilarious, suspenseful, entertaining, and satisfying.

As a bonus, you will squeal with delight at the wickedly delicious witty twist ending with the fan girl Roxanne and her dog, Valerie. Gosh, I had to rewind that a few times, as it made me smile. Also, another surprise twist, the younger brother, Henry connection. @littlebrother

Before I started writing this review, I purchased The Gabby Petito Story Lifetime movie on Amazon Video this morning. OMG! The INFLUENCER was ten times better than the movie. The movie was not that good (10.1.22)

This short story packed a wild punch with everything you could want. The movie was a big let down. If the movie script had been written by Joyce and followed the book, it would have been killer!

The movie focused on her best friend at home, not any influencer or follower. Lots of fighting and the ending not satisfying as the book.

We hear the following POVs in the book. (names changed for the fictional book, of course). The e-book was very well done! It contained short chapters with alternating voices, marked well with the name titles for each POV. Highly recommend!


  • Reporter

  • Tammy- Girl (she is so innocent. What does she see in this guy?)

  • Kevin - Guy (this guy is a total loser jerk, violent, and low self-esteem, narcissist, mama's boy)

  • Lorraine (Kevin's mom) She is so bad.

  • Fred (Kevin's dad)

  • Roger (Tammy's dad)

  • Deb (Tammy's mom)

  • Roxanne (fan girl and follower) @valeriadiscoversamerica Middle age, works at Amazon warehouse, and loves dogs. A HIT! I LOVED HER.

  • Valerie (Roxanne's dog) - The Havanese. Major player, 12 yrs old. Good partner in crime.

  • Gordon (Kevin's attorney) friend of Fred

Roxanne wants to follow Tammy to look out for her. Much like the real-life crime gal that helped guide the authorities, but Roxanne became more involved, and fans, you will love the ending!

These people sure like pizza!

We all want to see the man who killed Tammy get what he deserves. In this version, he does!

Also, in this book, Tammy is a virgin and wants to remain so until married, and of course, Kevin resents this even though she told him this in the beginning (like he would be able to change her mind - please!)

I loved how Joyce focused on the Kevin/mom relationship. This was so right on, and the sneaky way they planned to plant the backpack to escape, etc.

In real life, this was never right. Brian, the parents, especially the mom's involvement, the attorney, and lack of help with authorities. Who would believe it?

This young couple had no business being together as a couple, much less in a small camper on a cross-country camping trip. Thinking they could make it big as influencers. This is a cautionary tale for all women victims of domestic violence. Look for the signs and stay away before it is too late.

I know because this was my second husband- abusive. A real charmer. Thank goodness I got away from him.

Fan girl follower Roxanne made the book and her dog! She feels like she knows these influencers because they tell you everything online. So easy for her to get a camper and follow them and befriend Tammy. She wants to get to know Tammy, not Kevin, of course. To help protect her.

Now, Joyce could you please write a fictional short story about the JonBenét Ramsey case? This family formerly lived down the street from me in Atlanta—another case that has always been haunting. Would love your take.

Thank you, Joyce for reimagining of the case that has haunted us all. THE INFLUENCER was one of the best audiobooks I have listened to all year! (and I have listened to a ton).

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5💫 STARS

Pub Date: Oct 27, 2022

About the Author

A native of New Hampshire, Joyce Maynard began publishing her stories in magazines when she was thirteen years old. She first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story, “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life”, in 1972, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in over fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR and national magazines including Vogue, The New York Times Magazine, and many more. She is a longtime performer with The Moth.

Joyce Maynard is the author of eighteen books, including the New York Times bestselling novel, Labor Day and To Die For (both adapted for film), Under the Influence and the memoirs, At Home in the World and The Best of Us.

Her latest novel, Count the Ways —the story of a marriage and a divorce, and the children who survived it— was published by William Morrow in July, 2021.

She is currently at work on a sequel to Count the Ways, tentatively scheduled for publication in 2024.

Maynard is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. She is the founder of Write by the Lake, a week-long workshop on the art and craft of memoir, held every year since 2001 at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. WEBSITE

Join Joyce for the first-ever LIFE BY THE LAKE gathering…

Either, November 17-23, 2022 or January 11-17, 2023!

Maybe you are among those who have read my stories about my home on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and seen my pictures over the years—of volcanos, and great meals served on my patio overlooking the lake, and life in the Mayan indigenous village where I’ve lived, part time for over 20 years. “I’d love to go there,” you’ve told me. “But I’m not a writer.”

Now, here’s some news that might interest you…

This November 2022 and January 2023 I’ll be hosting two six-night trips to Guatemala--one night at a luxury boutique hotel in the lovely Spanish colonial city of Antigua, followed by five nights at my home on the lake. Think of this as a time to explore a fascinating culture, relax in a hammock, get a massage or swim under a volcano, share great meals in a location of incomparable beauty, and –every evening, or early morning, over coffee--engage in lively conversation (about writing, books, and more) with your hostess. That would be me.







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