How Can I Help You (Hardcover)

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How Can I Help You (Hardcover)


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From the author of Looker comes this “compulsive and unforgettable novel” (Mona Awad) of razor-sharp suspense about two local librarians whose lives become dangerously intertwined.

No one knows Margo’s real name. Her colleagues and patrons at a small-town public library only know her middle-aged normalcy, congeniality, and charm. They have no reason to suspect that she is, in fact, a former nurse with a trail of countless premature deaths in her wake. She has turned a new page, so to speak, and the library is her sanctuary, a place to quell old urges.

That is, at least, until Patricia, a recent graduate and failed novelist, joins the library staff. Patricia quickly notices Margo’s subtly sinister edge, and watches her carefully. When a patron’s death in the library bathroom gives her a hint of Margo’s mysterious past, Patricia can’t resist digging deeper—even as this new fixation becomes all-consuming.

Taut and compelling, How Can I Help You explores the dark side of human nature and the dangerous pull of artistic obsession as these “transfixing dual female narrators” (Kimberly McCreight) hurtle toward a stunning climax.
Laura Sims is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, LOOKER, now in development for television with eOne and Emily Mortimer’s King Bee Productions. An award-winning poet, Sims has published four poetry collections; her essays and poems have appeared in The New Republic, Boston Review, Electric Lit, and more. She and her family live in New Jersey, where she works part-time as a reference librarian and hosts the library’s lecture series.
Product Details ISBN: 9780593543702
ISBN-10: 059354370X
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: July 18th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English
One of Town and Country’s Must-Read Books of Summer
“A cat-and-mouse between two librarians, told from their alternating perspectives . . . A very fun thriller set at a local library.” —Town and Country
“[A] slow-burn game of cat and mouse . . . The characters are well drawn, and Margo is a particularly enjoyable antihero who brings dark humor to the story….Fresh and funny…A quick read that is reminiscent of Laura Lippman's Sunburn and Christine Mangan's Tangerine.” —Booklist

"Ingenious . . . Without interrupting her plot's momentum, Sims raises intriguing questions about the wellspring of literary creativity—and even more provocative ones about writerly ethics . . . . [For] fans of Shirley Jackson's eerie fiction . . . How Can I Help You is smartly scary entertainment that will have readers guessing about its outcome until almost the final page . . . . Canny and chilling."Shelf Awareness

"An engrossing mystery…Sims…will keep you guessing in this slow-burn psychological thriller—until the very end.” —NJ Monthly

"A book lover’s dream . . . A taut, high-stakes thriller set in a library…that culminates in a shocking climax." —Parade

"A former nurse with a cruel streak and an aspiring novelist check each other out in this eerie thriller set in a library. . . . Watching these two women peer at each other as they terrorize the bookshelves is great fun." —Kirkus Reviews

A psychological thriller that stands out in a crowded field…Give this unputdownable title to readers who revel in messy and complicated characters." –Library Journal (starred review)

"[A] brilliant slice of psychological suspense…Sims skillfully alternates between the perspectives of each woman, slowly bringing her simmering plot to a boil, and delivers a stunning climax. Patricia Highsmith fans will savor this unforgettable thriller.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A novel about two librarians caught in a deadly web of intrigue....a high-stakes game of cat and mouse." —Bustle

"Laura Sims brings suspense to the stacks." —Publishers Weekly

“A dark and spellbinding descent into jolly madness, How Can I Help You is reminiscent of Shirley Jackson at her eerie best. All of Sims’ deliciously wicked powers are on full display in this compulsive and unforgettable novel. A classic.” —Mona Awad, author of Bunny and All’s Well
"With transfixing dual female narrators and an artful, innovative structure, How Can I Help You is both a riveting commentary on false pretenses and an utterly beguiling cat and mouse thriller." —Kimberly McCreight, author of A Good Marriage and Friends Like These

"How Can I Help You
is an insidiously readable psychological trap set by and for its two unforgettable and unforgiving protagonists. Skillfully constructed and observed, Laura Sims's novel is a sly meditation on art and identity and the depths we'll go to protect our constructs. I couldn't have loved this book more." —Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World

“No one writes about obsession like Laura Sims. I may never look at libraries the same again.” —Samantha Downing, author of A Twisted Love Story

"Laura Sims’s How Can I Help You takes you inside the seedy underworld of – brace yourself – the small town public library. Turns out, it’s kind of shocking. Turns out, the kindly, cardigan-wearing librarians on the other side of the circulation desk have strong feelings about the bad behavior of library patrons – and, even more shocking -- are not so well-behaved themselves. Sims’s sharp, incisive second novel is an out-and-out page turner." —Marcy Dermansky, author of Very Nice

"How Can I Help You
is a roller-coaster ride of psychological suspense. The tautly constructed story had me hooked. Margo and Patricia are both hilarious and terrifying. As entertaining as it is, this novel is also a sensitive story about artistic ambition, the need to be seen and heard, and the fragility of relationships formed both inside and outside the workplace. You'll never look at your colleagues, or your local community librarian, in the same way again." —Helen Wan, author of The Partner Track