Laura Sims’ debut novel is an immersive investigation of obsession ... Sims’ approach is not judgmental ... The author so prioritizes her clever, contemplative heroine’s voice that, even as killer one-liners and suspenseful sequences abound, what settles in most clearly is an overwhelming melancholy ... Sims is smart enough not to let readers off the hook by reveling in mockery ... Looker is a wicked slow-burn without a clear arc to follow. The prose could use a serious tightening ... But this is still a strong, tense effort, short and addicting enough to be scarfed down in no more than a day.
Looker is a sugarcoated poison pill of psychological terror, whose wit and fluency cover its lacerating diagnosis of the deranging effects of envy, perhaps the most widespread social sickness of our age. The novel disturbs because we are all, to some degree, susceptible to the bacillus of the narrator’s insanity. And her symptoms may be more recognizable than we care to admit.
Some voyeurs are discomfiting because they hunger for things that we hate to admit we want: sex, material wealth, admiration. In Looker, the unnamed narrator’s motivations feel more devastating ... Sims delays resolving [the book's] tensions. She gives us the seedy, genre-peculiar pleasures of an unreliable narrator, especially as the looker’s trespasses worsen ... In the end, the Hitchcockian thrills of Looker prove only skin-deep; the book unmasks itself as a twisted portrait of pain ... Looker, at a hundred and eighty pages, lasts about as long as a movie, and not even half as long as a full night’s sleep. It’s an ephemeral fiction with a hard landing—like a window, seen in passing, that glows and goes dark.
Readers fond of protagonists who profess to guzzling wine at nine a.m. will breeze right through this one’s bad decisions, moments of shocking clarity and cruelty, and—no spoilers!—total undoing. A dark and stylish drama featuring a self-aware yet unstable narrator.
Tense, twisted and briskly paced, poet Laura Sims's debut novel, Looker, is the progressively disturbing story of one woman's grief-fueled spiral downward to an irredeemable rock bottom ... Somewhat surprisingly, the most disturbing thing about Looker is the creeping sense of complicity that Sims engenders in the reader. Her first-person, present-tense narration forces readers to join the narrator as she grows more daring, as though we too are peering in the actress's kitchen windows and stealing things from her front yard. However, the actress is never more than an image, while the narrator's psychological unraveling is starkly, brutally real.
Like a modern-day version of Poe’s 'The Tell-Tale Heart,' Sims’ novel shows the warped reality and claustrophobic mentality of a person losing a grip on her moral compass. But this reality is conveyed with slack language and a piling on of plot turns out of Single White Female or Fatal Attraction, which seems especially bewildering from Sims, the author of four well-regarded collections of poetry. In fact, the novel has some of its most original and electric moments when the narrator dives into the edgy poems she teaches her students. That this novel gallops along at top speed doesn’t disguise the overly familiar scenery going by along the way.
Jealousy rears its ugly head in Sims’s chilling and riveting debut ... In this tightly plotted novel, Sims takes the reader fully into the mind of a woman becoming increasingly unhinged, and turns her emotionally fraught journey into a provocative tale about the dangers of coveting what belongs to another.