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.
About the Author
Laura Sims is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Looker, now in development for television with Emily Mortimer’s King Bee Productions, eOne, and HBO Max. An award-winning poet, Sims has published four poetry collections; her essays and poems have appeared in The New Republic, Boston Review, Conjunctions, Electric Lit, Gulf Coast, 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.
"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’sHow Can I Help Youtakes 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