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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Photographer

ISBN: 1250790336

Publisher: Minotaur Books/St Martin's Press

Publication Date: 05/25/21

Format: e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars ++

Mary Dixie Carter's The Photographer is a slyly observed, suspenseful story of envy and obsession, told in the mesmerizing, irresistible voice of a character who will make you doubt that seeing is ever believing.


As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite: snapping photos of their children’s birthday parties, transforming images of stiff hugs and tearstained faces into visions of pure joy, and creating moments these parents long for.


But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene―in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life.


That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother, Amelia; finding chances to listen to her father, Fritz. Soon she’s bathing in the master bathtub, drinking their expensive wine, and eyeing the beautifully finished garden apartment in their townhouse. It seems she can never get close enough, until she discovers that photos aren’t all she can manipulate.


A June 2021 Indie Next Pick!

One of the "5 Books Not to Miss"―USA Today

One of the "2021 Debuts You Should Add to Your TBR Pile"―Frolic

One of the "Debut Novels to Have on Your 2021 TBR"―Bookish

One of the "Best Beach Reads of Summer 2021"―SheReads

One of the "Spring and Summer Thriller and Mystery Must-Reads"―Ms. Career Girl

One of the "PW Summer Reads 2021"―Publishers Weekly

" Bets On" Selection―

One of the "Titles To Watch 2021"―Library Journal

"I’ve rarely felt as unnerved by a novel as I did after reading Mary Dixie Carter’s THE PHOTOGRAPHER, a debut that trains a literal lens on aspiration, envy and overweening obsession. The depths to which Delta insinuates herself into their lives, and the reader’s growing realization that her fixation on the family can end only in the worst possible way, make the ensuing narrative climax all the more shocking for its unexpected twist."―New York Times Book Review

"Brace for hold-your-breath suspense from this dazzlingly devious newcomer. " ―Publishers Weekly (Starred)

"As sharply focused and mesmerizing as a magic trick and a good deal creepier than most." ―Kirkus Reviews

"The sense of impending disaster is palpable, as the suspense and tension grow, and what happens at the end is unexpected and odd. Creepy, dark, and suspenseful . . . A gripping read."


"[An] explosive debut."

―Library Journal

"A twisted, dark, psychological thriller, The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter is a riveting and unsettling read. I couldn’t put it down."

―Lisa Lutz, New York Times bestselling author of The Passenger

"Why create the perfect life when you can just insert yourself into someone else’s? Mary Dixie Carter’s The Photographer is You meets Parasite, and I inhaled every dark, twisted moment of this brilliant thriller. Sharply observant, tense, and totally hypnotic, The Photographer is the most addictive suspense novel I’ve read in years."

―Jennifer Hillier, award-winning author of Jar of Hearts and Little Secrets

“The tension simmers brilliantly in this addictive and intricately constructed story of beauty, longing and the shadow side of desire. By holding up a mirror to our modern-day obsessions, Mary Dixie Carter shows us the futility of chasing greener grass and the madness that begins with picture-perfection. After reading The Photographer, the phrase 'living the dream' takes on a whole new and chilling meaning.”

―Anna Downes, international bestselling author of The Safe Place

"Unsettling from page one, Mary Dixie Carter's The Photographer follows an insidious photographer as she wheedles her way into the home of the clients she idolizes, permanently altering the course of all of their lives. Masterful storytelling in a unique voice . . . this remarkable debut is sure to keep you riveted!"

―Katherine St. John, author of The Lion's Den

My Review

A Killer Debut!

The Photographer devoured me!

Delta Dawn is like no character you will ever meet. She is delusional, narcissistic, devious, and twisted. This is a psychological thriller that belongs on the Best Debut of 2021 list!

Stellar! I read #ThePhotographer in one sitting and stayed up the entire night, and finished at 6 am! Mary Dixie Carter, a winner out of the gate! I will be a fan for life. Heck, she could write anything (check out her bio!). Everything about this one was flawless. LOVE THIS AUTHOR.

Delta Dawn is a fabulously evil character. She is envious, smart, freaky, manipulative, and obsessive. She also is a smart cookie with good taste.

She grew up in Orlando, FL, and her parents were janitors at Disney. Delta has always been determined to break out of her class. She wants nothing more than to be accepted into the proper social circles. She wants their life. She craves their life.

Delta will do anything to manipulate and create a world she sees and imagines through her own camera lens.

"People like me created useful stories to paste over other stories. Because the real stories would take you on a deep dive to Hell."

Delta sees herself and her talent as a photographer as multidimensional. She likes to create the moments, seeing herself as a director. She was an artist who could translate ALL into a photograph.

Egocentric, Delta moved to New York and has become one of the most popular and sought-after photographers of children and their families. Of course, they must be affluent to give that picture-perfect appearance.

If her clients are having a bad day, or a frown, no problem, she can fix anything with the magic of Photoshop or other software to manipulate it as she sees it in her world. She can even make them do whatever she deems fit in a photograph. We are talking down and dirty crazy here. She is one delusional and perverted chick!

She wants a family. She says she has a son named Jasper that lives with his dad in California. However, is he real? What is true, and what is a lie? You cannot believe anything she says.

She meets this prominent family through a birthday party gig to photograph the Straubs— interior designer and top architects. Fritz, Amelia, and daughter, Natalie.

They have a beautiful home to die for and a beautiful garden apartment featured in top design magazines and one that would be would, of course, be perfect for her. In fact, it was made for her. (she will make sure of it and oh the schemes to get rid of the current tenant).

She was hired to photograph Natalie, the eleven-year-old daughter 's birthday party and soon interjects herself into their lives. She befriends the daughter, mom, and dad. From baby-sitting, house-sitting, watering plants, and dreaming, this family cannot do without her. She even goes as far as to date their business partner.

Unlike most stalkers, she wants more than the husband; she likes the woman too and the daughter. She wants to be a part of them. With continued schemes and manipulation, she finds more ways to be become engrossed in their lives.

She finds one thing that she thinks may lock in her permanently to them. She needs the power. This is her key. Amelia has had several miscarriages and wants another baby. The light goes on. This is her in. She will have the power.

However, she overlooks one thing. . .

Now, you must read to see what happens and the dangerous lengths she will go to get that perfect life.

An addictive read, I could not put this one down! There was never a lull. With each page turn there was something else to make your jaw drop. It grips you from the first page to the last. The author is highly creative and funny.

I was thinking I could stop reading and go to bed around 86%; however, when I flipped the page when Ian told Delta, he had just met her son, Jasper, I about died!!! (I laughed so hard) The best part and could picture her face. No way I was stopping. It was full throttle ahead to the satisfying conclusion.

Highly entertaining, an author to watch. THE PHOTOGRAPHER is movie-worthy! Top Books of 2021

Fans of Kaira Rouda (and her narcissistic characters), as well as Carolina Kepnes (Joe Goldberg), Victoria Helen Stone's Jane Doe, and Sally Hepworth's The Good Sister will devour this gem.

Highly recommend!

A special thank you to St Martins Press/Minotaur and NetGalley for a print and digital advanced reading copy.

Check out the Audiobook Narrated by the Author.

About the Author

MARY DIXIE CARTER’s writing has appeared in TIME, The Economist, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Sun, The New York Observer and other print and online publications. She worked at The Observer for five years, where she served as the publishing director. In addition to writing, she also has a background as a professional actor. Mary Dixie graduated from Harvard College with an honors degree in English Literature and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young children. The Photographer is her first novel. Website







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