Once again I thank Stephen King. I take his book recommendations seriously. Without him I may have missed out on books I love, like Brutal Youth, Charlesgate Confidential. Then again, he liked Elevator Pitch.

I read You, the first book from Caroline Kepnes, on King's advice. I liked it a lot. You could have easily have been a fluke, as it was kind of gimmicky. But Kepnes is too good for that. The You/Joe Goldberg novels are unique and they rank among the best satires I've ever read. I like her stand-alone novel, Providence, even more.

You probably know the You premise by now. It's a highly successful Netflix show. The series is basically about a guy who stalks women. That's sick, scary stuff, but Kepnes makes it all, gulp, funny.

The first You novel, simply called You, skewers New York hipsters. The second, Hidden Bodies, rips on LA/Hollywood rich corrupt lifestyles. And now we have the third book in the series: You Love Me.

This time our boy Joe has hit a smaller town. Lower population, but the biting satire is just as potent. Joe takes a home in a small, arty community outside Seattle. And Joe has his sights on a librarian.

Oh man, have I been looking forward to this one. I married a librarian, so I know the ins and outs of the trade more than some. There is some juicy library humor in You Love Me, but Kepnes mostly has the hypocritical hip crowd on target.

The thing is, we loathe the things Joe does, but damned if we do not cringe along with him at the phony people he encounters. It's a little sick, but we want Joe to succeed. If everyone would just cooperate with poor Joe Goldberg, he wouldn't have to kill, or even imprison, anyone.

As disturbing as the events in the You books are, I find them to be dark comedies. I get tired of twists in genre fiction, but they are integral parts of the Joe Goldberg stories. There are numerous surprises in You Love Me, but Kepnes had yet to genuinely shock and disturb me. She did so at the end of You love Me. She throws readers a curve ball, and I certainly wasn't expecting it.

Of course there's a setup for another book. I imagine Caroline Kepnes is locked into the character for the time being. I hope Joe Goldberg doesn't imprison or kill her career. It's difficult as hell to maintain freshness in a series. So far she is doing a fantastic job.

Written by Mark Sieber

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