Stalker Stalked (Down & Out Books / All Due Respect) is a clever, fast-paced thriller with a pulp-fiction feel that I could not put down. Author Lee Matthew Goldberg is also a screen and television writer, and it shows. Just like a movie, he starts the book with a BAM! 

I am being watched. This is not the first time. My stalker is smart, just like I would be. He or she finds the shadows. Shows up when I’m wasted or popped too many little blue pills. So I’ll be far enough away from reality to believe they are real. When I’m sleeping they’re at the foot of my bed, exhaling in the dark. When I turn on the light, they scatter like a cockroach. I pick up the phone and hear their crackle on the other end. Both of us playing chicken, refusing to hang up while we breathe in each other’s pain. They left a DIE BITCH message on my door, written in blood, or at least syrup that looks like blood. They will ramp up their pursuit and attack when I least expect. I know this because that is what I would do.

CITY GAL’S REALITY SHOW ESCAPE MORPHS INTO OBSESSION 

Meet Lexi, our leading lady, who lives in present-day New York City. She is a classic pulp-fiction protagonist, a fascinating kinetic train wreck. But she’s not a damsel in distress; she’s a modern city gal, a committed pill-popping junkie who enjoys her “little blue heavens” (as she calls them) at a rate of 15 pills per day — enough to kill most people.  She doesn’t pay for her drugs because she is getting free samples as a pharmaceutical salesperson skimming off the top, spending her days and nights descending into a psychotic, drug-riddled delusional haze that blurs the lines between fact and fiction. 

It is in this rapidly deteriorating state that Lexi becomes obsessed with a reality show called Socialites — specifically the socialite Magnolia — and begins to stalk her. Her growing obsession drives the plotline. Never a dull moment. 

I remember when I lived in New York City on 34th and Lexington. I would observe impeccably dressed women in classic black pumps with their perfect legs and little blue suits prancing around from one doctors’ office to another courtesy of pharmaceutical companies. Physicians could see their favorite girl as much as they wanted as long as they bought the drugs, and I often caught them running out of a building adjusting blouses that had fallen into disarray during the long day. Sadly, many of these girls spent much of their time fighting off doctors trying to fondle them. 

So, yes, pharmaceutical companies looked the other way if a girl needed a little something to keep her motivated, and yes, women like Lexi do exist. 

PILL-POPPING BLURS THE LINE BETWEEN FAN AND FRIEND

Pharmaceuticals don’t go well with reality, and Lexi begins to believe that the actors are her friends. In the age of technology, stalking is effortless; it’s just a matter of following the show’s social media feeds. Lexi stalks Magnolia because she believes that they share a special BFF relationship. After all, as Lexi puts it, “they finish one another’s sentences.”

Because of the nature of Magnolia’s job, she has no idea she has attracted a psychotic stalker until Lexi shows up to a taping and generates such drug-riddled chaos that the producer puts her in an episode. What happens next? I won’t spoil anything  if I tell you that the title gives it away. 

The language is slick and cool, tweaked to fit the genre. The dialog is punchy. The phrase, “put your feet up on the footstool” becomes “take a load off and put your dogs up.” No question this novel can easily be turned into a film; there’s even some room left for a subplot to be braided in. And although the twist is far-fetched by reality’s standards, it is believable in the world of Stalker Stalked because anything is believable under a pulp-fiction veil.


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Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels The Ancestor, Slow Down, The Mentor from St. Martin’s Press, The Desire Card, Orange City and the Young Adult series Runaway Train and Grenade Bouquets. His books are in various stages of development for film/TV. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. Lee is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City.