June 04, 2024

Tell Me Who You Are

By Louisa Luna
Louisa Luna crafts a boldly, unapologetically unlikable protagonist in Tell Me Who You Are—but is Dr. Caroline Strange also unreliable?
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Anyone who’s ever wondered “What’s my therapist really thinking?” will be fascinated by Louisa Luna’s foray into the mind of the wholly compelling Dr. Caroline Strange. 

In Tell Me Who You Are, her seventh book and first standalone thriller in nearly 20 years, Luna—known for her Alice Vega series, including 2023 Edgar Award-winner Hideout—introduces an unapologetically confident and cynical New York City psychiatrist who favors white Alexander McQueen suits (“It’s not a fucking square dance; it’s work”) and lives in a wealthy Brooklyn neighborhood where “botox meets craft butchery, and even the homeless people can do a mean upward-facing dog.”

As Dr. Caroline breezily explains, she’s accustomed to deconstructing all manner of human flaws and foibles, hence the snarky nicknames she (privately) gives her patients: Deluded Delia, Bilious Byron, Pouty Petra and more. So it’s just another day at work when a new patient named Nelson Schack tells her he’s probably going to kill someone they both know. A seemingly unfazed Dr. Caroline is surprised when NYPD detectives arrive soon after, indicating they consider her a suspect in the missing-persons case of Ellen Garcia, a journalist who named her one of the “Top Ten Worst Doctors in Brooklyn.” Dr. Caroline is convinced that Nelson has somehow framed her for Ellen’s disappearance, and she soon embarks on her own covert investigation.

As a chase around the city gets underway, Luna layers in the perspectives of a young Caroline’s neighbor Gordon Strong (hinting at horrors in the good doctor’s past) and Ellen, who’s losing hope for rescue. Progressively shorter chapters will elevate page-flipping readers’ heart rate as the past inches closer to the present and Luna’s characters contend with mounting danger. 

Dr. Caroline herself is no stranger to trauma. It’s what motivated her to become a psychiatrist, and what comes back to haunt her. She may well be unlikable—but is she also unreliable? Luna expertly keeps her cards close to her chest until nearly the nerve-wracking end of this engrossing, twisty character study of a complicated woman.

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