The Photographer” by Mary Dixie Carter

Review by Amy Atzert, collection development librarian

Amelia and Fritz Straub got more than they bargained for when they hired Delta Dawn as their family photographer. They were looking for a photographer to take pictures for their daughter Natalie’s 11th birthday party. What they weren’t expecting was to be introduced to someone who would become obsessed with their family, inserting herself into every detail of their life. 

Delta was raised in an abusive and poverty-stricken home. She wanted to change her future. After studying photography, she heads to New York City to photograph wealthy families. She has a particular skill and philosophy that makes her photographs in high demand. She alters them to create a new and perfect family reality. She removes all traces of sadness and discontent and leaves only happiness in the images. She gives her clients’ photographs they want to believe are a true representation of their family.

After the Straub family photoshoot, Delta offers to babysit when the Straub’s are stuck in a bind. Once in their home, she takes every opportunity to look around, peruse their shelves, and read notes detailing their most personal information. She even takes a bath in their tub. She takes photographs of their home and changes them to include her. She does this to help her feel more like a part of their family.

She slowly and patiently offers her help and makes herself indispensable to the Straubs, first as a babysitter for Natalie, then a friend for Amelia. Once Amelia confides she wants another child more than she can explain but can’t conceive on her own, Delta has the guaranteed way to finally become part of their family. She sets her plan in motion. It doesn’t matter to her that the story she is creating is built on lies and not reality. 

Delta is dark and deceptive. The story is creepy and unsettling. A truly twisted, suspenseful read. I will never look at any photographer and their craft quite the same. Be sure to pick this one up!