I had to start this review by searching for the differences between sociopaths and psychopaths. Never say that I don’t strive for accuracy!
Joe Goldberg is a psychopath. We met him in Kepnes’ GLORIOUS debut novel, You, which I easily 5-starred in 2014. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend that you do so. At the time I described it as “Lolita for the Twitterverse”, and the story of Joe Goldberg’s obsession with Guinevere Beck really set the unlikeable, unreliable narrator trend on its head. Although Hidden Bodies could be read and enjoyed as a standalone, there are many references to the first novel, and plenty would be lost by skipping it.
In Hidden Bodies, Joe is in love again, this time with Amy, a kindred spirit. She turns out to be too kindred of a spirit in mirroring his psychopathic tendencies and she robs him and breaks his heart. Joe tracks her to L.A., and decides he’ll settle in so he can murder her. Amy turns out to be harder to track than he thought, and Joe ends up rather deeply entrenched in the wacky L.A. fame-and-riches culture. Kepnes absolutely skewers L.A. culture and all the dark humor of You is still present in Hidden Bodies.
The real brilliance of Kepnes is in making Joe so darn LIKEABLE. You’ll find yourself totally agreeing with Joe’s bananas rationales. He’s smart, he’s funny, the ladies love him: it just turns out that he’s a completely insane murderous stalker. Details. It’s the kind of humor where afterwards you would normally feel the teensiest bit of shame for having laughed, but you don’t because Kepnes is brilliant at building this character.
4.5 stars. Minus half a star just because this is pretty much more of the same content that You set in motion, but if it’s not broke, why fix it!?