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The Anatomy of Desire

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A modern tale of American striving, social media stardom, a fatal love triangle, and a young woman on trial for murder—a mesmerizing reimagining of Theodore Dreiser's classic novel of crime and punishment, An American Tragedy. Claire Griffith seems to have it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous, successful boyfriend, a glamorous circle of friends. She always knew she was des A modern tale of American striving, social media stardom, a fatal love triangle, and a young woman on trial for murder—a mesmerizing reimagining of Theodore Dreiser's classic novel of crime and punishment, An American Tragedy. Claire Griffith seems to have it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous, successful boyfriend, a glamorous circle of friends. She always knew she was destined for more than the life her deeply conservative parents preached to her. Arriving in Los Angeles as a flat broke teenager, she has risen to become a popular fitness coach and social media influencer. Having rebranded herself as Cleo Ray, she stands on the threshold of achieving her most cherished dreams. One summer day, Cleo and a young woman named Beck Alden set off in a canoe on a quiet, picture-perfect mountain lake. An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water, her face cut and bruised, and Cleo is missing. Authorities suspect foul play and news about Cleo’s involvement goes viral. Who was Beck and what was the nature of her and Cleo’s relationship? Was Beck an infatuated follower who took things too far? If Cleo is innocent, why did she run? Was it an accident? Or was it murder? As evidence of Cleo’s secret life surfaces, the world begins to see just how hard she strived to get to the top— and how fast and far the fall is from celebrity to infamy. L. R. Dorn’s reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s novel, told in the form of a true crime docuseries a la Serial and The Jinx—with characters speaking through the “transcripts” of recorded interviews—The Anatomy of Desire exposes the ambition, sexual passion, and dark side of success that readers will find as achingly poignant as they did a century ago.


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A modern tale of American striving, social media stardom, a fatal love triangle, and a young woman on trial for murder—a mesmerizing reimagining of Theodore Dreiser's classic novel of crime and punishment, An American Tragedy. Claire Griffith seems to have it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous, successful boyfriend, a glamorous circle of friends. She always knew she was des A modern tale of American striving, social media stardom, a fatal love triangle, and a young woman on trial for murder—a mesmerizing reimagining of Theodore Dreiser's classic novel of crime and punishment, An American Tragedy. Claire Griffith seems to have it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous, successful boyfriend, a glamorous circle of friends. She always knew she was destined for more than the life her deeply conservative parents preached to her. Arriving in Los Angeles as a flat broke teenager, she has risen to become a popular fitness coach and social media influencer. Having rebranded herself as Cleo Ray, she stands on the threshold of achieving her most cherished dreams. One summer day, Cleo and a young woman named Beck Alden set off in a canoe on a quiet, picture-perfect mountain lake. An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water, her face cut and bruised, and Cleo is missing. Authorities suspect foul play and news about Cleo’s involvement goes viral. Who was Beck and what was the nature of her and Cleo’s relationship? Was Beck an infatuated follower who took things too far? If Cleo is innocent, why did she run? Was it an accident? Or was it murder? As evidence of Cleo’s secret life surfaces, the world begins to see just how hard she strived to get to the top— and how fast and far the fall is from celebrity to infamy. L. R. Dorn’s reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s novel, told in the form of a true crime docuseries a la Serial and The Jinx—with characters speaking through the “transcripts” of recorded interviews—The Anatomy of Desire exposes the ambition, sexual passion, and dark side of success that readers will find as achingly poignant as they did a century ago.

30 review for The Anatomy of Desire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    Here’s a 4-star review with a whole lotta caveats: - I listened to the audiobook, which has an outstanding, topnotch full cast. Given this novel’s structure as essentially the transcript of an episodic (fictional) true crime podcast or docuseries made into book form, I’m not sure how that translates on the page. - This is a retelling of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 classic, An American Tragedy, which I have not read, and which was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film, A Place in the Sun, which Here’s a 4-star review with a whole lotta caveats: - I listened to the audiobook, which has an outstanding, topnotch full cast. Given this novel’s structure as essentially the transcript of an episodic (fictional) true crime podcast or docuseries made into book form, I’m not sure how that translates on the page. - This is a retelling of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 classic, An American Tragedy, which I have not read, and which was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film, A Place in the Sun, which I also have not seen. All are based on a real 1906 murder. I suspect if you have any affection for the source material, The Anatomy of Desire might offend by its modernity. Also, the AAT audiobook is 34 hours, compared to TAOD’s 8 hours. Take from that what you will. - You probably really need to enjoy true crime podcasts and/or courtroom thrillers to gel with this book. If you seek beautiful, thought-provoking prose, keep on browsing. - Influencers, influencers, influencers. Can you stand them? This story is about a “fitfluencer” who is accused of murdering her girlfriend after she falls in love with another Youtube star. Themes of fame, spirituality, and pansexuality are explored through the lens of fairly vapid characters. BUT, I was engaged from start to finish. While The Anatomy of Desire’s audiobook was a truly enjoyable listening experience for me, it may not be for you. Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/ IG: @confettibookshelf

  2. 5 out of 5

    Frank Phillips

    Fun fact about myself: About 7 years ago I was basically a gym rat, and even competed in a few bodybuilding/physique competitions with the goal of creating and maintaining a fitness Instagram account and becoming a fitness influencer. I injured my back doing squats in the gym one day and had to scale back drastically on the amount of weight I worked out with, so those dreams were shot really before they even started. That all being said, I had no idea when I picked this book up that this would b Fun fact about myself: About 7 years ago I was basically a gym rat, and even competed in a few bodybuilding/physique competitions with the goal of creating and maintaining a fitness Instagram account and becoming a fitness influencer. I injured my back doing squats in the gym one day and had to scale back drastically on the amount of weight I worked out with, so those dreams were shot really before they even started. That all being said, I had no idea when I picked this book up that this would be about a fitness influencer. It spoke to me almost immediately! It took a few pages to get accustomed to the format, being all interviews/podcast, but it actually really worked for me and I found myself hooked! I think this writing duo hit the nail on the head, and had to have done extensive research into the 'fitfluencer' field, as some of the things our protagonist Cleo Ray said gave me a sense of deja vu, and at times I even cringed by how superficial yet realistic they were! Needless to say, Cleo Ray is a fitness guru on social media and also happens to be bisexual. She's in a short-lived relationship with her girlfriend Beck when she meets another social media star Sandy (a male), who quickly sweeps her off her feet, and before Cleo knows it she's head over heels in love with him. Cleo tries to let Beck down easy, however Beck isn't having it and essentially blackmails Cleo into dumping Sandy and staying with her. This leads to a boating accident in which Beck drowns and Cleo is seen running from the scene, and soon after arrested and charged with first degree murder! Did Cleo kill Beck so she could be with Sandy? Or was this purely accidental? What secret does Cleo have that Beck found out about? These were the probing questions throughout Beck's murder trial. I'm not a huge legal thriller fan, but the trial seemed to fly by for me and before I knew it there was a shocking verdict, followed by a very touching final chapter. I actually gasped out loud, finding myself clutching my 'pearls' and tearing up by that ending!! Needless to say, I'm absolutely a new fan of this writing duo, and cannot wait for their next release! I would recommend this to almost any thriller, legal thriller, suspense or drama fan - you're in for a treat!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bridgett

    “What does it matter if an influencer gains all the followers in the world only to lose her soul?” I've read a string of really great books lately, including this one, so I'm really hoping that doesn't mean I'm heading for a hardcore crash. :) The Anatomy of Desire was an incredibly pleasant surprise for me. I would read late into the night until my eyelids refused to stay open any longer. The way it's written - in the form of a docuseries which interviews all the key players who had a role in “What does it matter if an influencer gains all the followers in the world only to lose her soul?” I've read a string of really great books lately, including this one, so I'm really hoping that doesn't mean I'm heading for a hardcore crash. :) The Anatomy of Desire was an incredibly pleasant surprise for me. I would read late into the night until my eyelids refused to stay open any longer. The way it's written - in the form of a docuseries which interviews all the key players who had a role in the murder trial of social media influencer, Cleo Ray - was addictive. It made for a very quick read, and instead of stopping at the end of a chapter, I'd find myself thinking, "Just a couple more pages." According to the authors, husband and wife duo, Matt Dorff and Suzanne Dunn, this novel was actually based on “a true crime drowning of Grace Mae Brown by her lover, Chester Gillette” – a story from 1906 which then went on to inspire a novel called An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. Having never heard of this particular crime, or reading this Dreiser novel...I can't really make an educated comment about whether or not this book lives up to its predecessor. What this book does brilliantly, however, is show the flesh and blood person behind the screen; their trials and tribulations, their history, and their sad and shocking traumas. I found myself rooting for Cleo, despite the many less-than-desirable choices she made. I'll also say this: The Anatomy of Desire was one of the most gripping courtroom dramas I've read in a very long time. I highly recommend this book! 4.5 stars Available May 11, 2021 My sincere appreciation to NetGalley and William Morrow for my review copy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gabby

    3.5 stars I listened to this on audio which is probably the way to go considering this has a full cast of narrators! I love a full cast on audio it makes it so much more exciting to listen to. This book simultaneously reads like a true crime podcast and a real court room scene. I love that this book follows a social media influence named Cleo who is being accused of murder. I love that this takes place in Mammoth, CA one of my favorite places in the world!!! It was very atmospheric and now I want 3.5 stars I listened to this on audio which is probably the way to go considering this has a full cast of narrators! I love a full cast on audio it makes it so much more exciting to listen to. This book simultaneously reads like a true crime podcast and a real court room scene. I love that this book follows a social media influence named Cleo who is being accused of murder. I love that this takes place in Mammoth, CA one of my favorite places in the world!!! It was very atmospheric and now I want to be at the lake all day. For some reason it was hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that this is fiction, it just seemed so real and I kept thinking I was listening to true crime 😅 Thanks to Libro.fm for providing me with an ALC of this book!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I've only ever listened to one podcast, not seen any of those true crime documentaries that have become so popular, so I totally surprised myself by how much I liked listening to this on audio. It starts as an investigation of a social media influencer accused of the murder of her girlfriend. There are many narrators in the cast but one soon becomes easily able to discern who is talking. A documentary filmaker soon enters the picture, and he follows this story to its conclusion. There is a trial I've only ever listened to one podcast, not seen any of those true crime documentaries that have become so popular, so I totally surprised myself by how much I liked listening to this on audio. It starts as an investigation of a social media influencer accused of the murder of her girlfriend. There are many narrators in the cast but one soon becomes easily able to discern who is talking. A documentary filmaker soon enters the picture, and he follows this story to its conclusion. There is a trial, we hear from different witnesses and see exactly how the case is presented, prosecution and defense. I was completely gobsmacked by the ending. Yet, it made sense and completely brought everything full circle. Secrets, consequences and details of a life that was anything but easy brought to an ugly conclusion. I don't think I would have liked this as much had I read instead of listened. The heard voices made it seem real. ARC from Netgalley.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    3.5 stars Once again I find myself wondering how do I rate a book in which I liked the journey but didn't care for the final destination. If a story doesn't finish strong does it cancel out what was up until that point a fairly decent read? Answering my own question, I guess it depends on the book and I should just go with my gut feeling. Claire Griffith was eager to escape her religious upbringing and she hightailed it to California. She's built a name for herself as a fitness social media infl 3.5 stars Once again I find myself wondering how do I rate a book in which I liked the journey but didn't care for the final destination. If a story doesn't finish strong does it cancel out what was up until that point a fairly decent read? Answering my own question, I guess it depends on the book and I should just go with my gut feeling. Claire Griffith was eager to escape her religious upbringing and she hightailed it to California. She's built a name for herself as a fitness social media influencer. One day Claire goes out for a canoe ride with a woman named Beck Alden. Sounds like a pleasant time, that is until Beck is found dead in the water and Claire goes missing. Police suspect foul play and they are eager to find Claire to get her side of the story. How did Beck die? Accident? Murder? The story is told using an oral history/interview type format. You basically get bits and pieces from everyone connected to the case and the story unfolds in a natural progression. It's become kinda trendy to use this format both in fiction and nonfiction and personally I found it easy to follow the story without losing interest. However, some readers might prefer the audiobook version as the way to go rather than a print copy or ebook. The story has a bit of an episodic television type feel to it which makes sense given the authors (yes, two people wrote the book) have a screenwriting background. Most of the chapters seemed to end on a cliffhanger/tune in next week type note. For me this was much more of a plot driven story than one that relied on in depth analysis of characters. To be honest, the characters themselves didn't do much for me. I kept holding on to the feeling that something special was in store with the plot but unfortunately I don't think it delivered in the end. "Meh" is pretty much the way to describe the last few chapters in the book. I might have finished the book on a disappointing note, but the vast majority of the story held my interest and that counts for something. Thank you to William Morrow for providing me with an advance copy. All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    I had no idea when I started this one that it was a re-telling. Needless to say, I have never read An American Tragedy, so I went into the storyline completely blind and maybe that's why I enjoyed it more than many of those who have read the original Theodore Dreiser work. When I read the first page and saw that it was told in a transcript/podcast type format, I had no idea the whole book was in this format. Initially I wasn't a fan of it, because there was no "extra narrative" to the plot, but w I had no idea when I started this one that it was a re-telling. Needless to say, I have never read An American Tragedy, so I went into the storyline completely blind and maybe that's why I enjoyed it more than many of those who have read the original Theodore Dreiser work. When I read the first page and saw that it was told in a transcript/podcast type format, I had no idea the whole book was in this format. Initially I wasn't a fan of it, because there was no "extra narrative" to the plot, but within a chapter or so, I found myself enjoying it. It was different, and I actually thought that it made the story quite compelling, as Dorn was able to incorporate many voices/viewpoints within a short timeframe. I have read criticism that with this style the reader doesn't get a chance to delve into the characters' thoughts, etc., but I thought it worked well with this specific plot and cast of characters. It gave it all a very true crime documentary feel. Protagonist Cleo Ray is a fitness guru who endured a seemingly difficult childhood only to overcome it all and become a popular social media influencer. In the social media world, she is on the verge of achieving all of her desires. Things unravel quickly though when she Cleo is accused of drowning a woman, Beck, who turns out to be her very secret lover. Is Cleo guilty of murder? That is the question of the hour, and I admit, I wavered several times between thinking Cleo was a victim of circumstance and a raging sociopath. It was one of those books in which I hated some characters, then I would have a change of heart, but then the feelings changed back again. I also really enjoyed the courtroom scenes (even though some of it was slightly unrealistic - there is no murder trial in the US that takes place within two months after the death!), but I still enjoyed the witness testimonies and Cleo's time on the stand. While there was no real "twist" or surprise ending, I still was not expecting the conclusion. Overall, it was a fairly quick read that hooked me from page one. These authors did a great job playing on my feelings, and I was surprised at how I invested I felt at the end of this one! 4 thought-provoking stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    3 Murky Stars Cleo Ray is a fitness influencer and she’s built a mini-empire for herself online. She’s overcome a troubled childhood and adolescence and ultra-religious parents. She has legions of fans. One big problem now is that she’s created a love triangle with girlfriend Beck (Rebecca) and boyfriend Sandy. Cleo and Beck head to a lake for a canoe outing where Beck thinks they are getting engaged. Unfortunately, things don’t end well for Beck, as she drowns, and Cleo is seen fleeing from the s 3 Murky Stars Cleo Ray is a fitness influencer and she’s built a mini-empire for herself online. She’s overcome a troubled childhood and adolescence and ultra-religious parents. She has legions of fans. One big problem now is that she’s created a love triangle with girlfriend Beck (Rebecca) and boyfriend Sandy. Cleo and Beck head to a lake for a canoe outing where Beck thinks they are getting engaged. Unfortunately, things don’t end well for Beck, as she drowns, and Cleo is seen fleeing from the scene. The rest of the book deals with Cleo’s arrest and trial. There are some interesting courtroom scenes and drama regarding Cleo’s guilt or innocence. The whole books is written in an interesting way as a true crime podcast. I may have enjoyed the audio of this one a bit more. A modern retelling of An American Tragedy. Thank you to NetGalley and Scene of the Crime/William Morrow/Custom House for the copy to read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jayne

    OMG! Theodore Dreiser must be doing somersaults in his grave. THE ANATOMY OF DESIRE is a "retelling" of Theodore Dreiser's AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY. Dreiser's book was based on a 1906 true crime boyfriend-kills-girlfriend story. In Dreiser's book, the protagonist Clyde is an ambitious but impoverished young man who impregnates a poor farm girl named Roberta only to later fall in love with Sondra, a wealthy socialite. When Roberta threatens to expose Clyde as the father of her child, Clyde does not wan OMG! Theodore Dreiser must be doing somersaults in his grave. THE ANATOMY OF DESIRE is a "retelling" of Theodore Dreiser's AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY. Dreiser's book was based on a 1906 true crime boyfriend-kills-girlfriend story. In Dreiser's book, the protagonist Clyde is an ambitious but impoverished young man who impregnates a poor farm girl named Roberta only to later fall in love with Sondra, a wealthy socialite. When Roberta threatens to expose Clyde as the father of her child, Clyde does not want to lose Sondra (and his new elevated social status!) and views killing Roberta by drowning her as his only option. In THE ANATOMY OF DESIRE, "Cleo" is the protagonist. Just like Clyde, she comes from humble beginnings and was raised by devoutly religious parents. To "modernize" Dreiser's story, Cleo is a successful bisexual health/fitness Instagram influencer who just ended an affair with her lesbian girlfriend Rebecca (Beck). Similar to Clyde - Cleo abandoned her love interest for a wealthier and more socially acceptable partner --a wealthy Instagram influencer male named Sandy. Following Dreiser's storyline, Cleo goes on a rowboat with her soon-to-be abandoned girlfriend. And just like Clyde's Roberta, Beck's dead body is recovered in a local lake with an autopsy revealing that her head was smashed by a canoe paddle. PROBLEMS WITH THIS BOOK: The authors worked too hard to "modernize" this story. Also, I had a major problem with the way the authors portrayed the LGBTQ community and the bisexual MC. Friendly reminder: this is 2021, not 1906. But it was the lack of compelling character development that set this book apart from Dreiser's classic. Dreiser's "the curse of the poor is their poverty" messaging and his brilliant portrayal of class struggle were absent. Even though I was not on "Team Clyde" when I read Dreiser's classic many years ago, Dreiser's strong character development was so poignant that I remember feeling Clyde's angst, frustration, and "no way out" despair. Not so with THE ANATOMY OF DESIRE's Cleo. The author's character development was lacking and I had absolutely no "connection" with any of the MCs. I listened to the audiobook. I usually love it when a book has multiple narrators. This book had many narrators but to fully "modernize" this retelling of Dreiser's classic, the authors reveal the evidence in "true crime docuseries" segments. Unfortunately, this formatting did not work and made the "retelling" choppy and disjointed. One star, rounded up. Soooo disappointed!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie (JuJu)

    No Rating. The story is told in a Podcast format, which I’ve come to enjoy, but it didn’t work for me in this book. I found it confusing and was unable to finish. It did receive some great reviews, so I might try listening to the audiobook at some point. Thank you to NetGalley, L.R. Dorn and Harper Collins, for the opprtunity to try this free digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

  11. 4 out of 5

    ♥Rachel♥

    When I started listening, I knew The Anatomy of Desire was based on the classic novel, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser which was based on a real-life murder that happened in 1906. It was later made into the movie, A Place in the Sun. I had never read it or seen the movie, so I had no idea what to expect. Since listening, I went back and looked up the An American Tragedy and it’s surprising how faithful this reimagining is to the original tale, albeit modernized. It’s funny how little thi When I started listening, I knew The Anatomy of Desire was based on the classic novel, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser which was based on a real-life murder that happened in 1906. It was later made into the movie, A Place in the Sun. I had never read it or seen the movie, so I had no idea what to expect. Since listening, I went back and looked up the An American Tragedy and it’s surprising how faithful this reimagining is to the original tale, albeit modernized. It’s funny how little things change in terms of human desire and emotions through the years. The story is timeless, tragic, and made for a riveting read! It had me thinking on it long after I finished. Cleo Ray grew up dirt poor in a strict religious household, eager to leave that behind. Now she’s a rising social media influencer coaching followers on body image, fitness, and life, and she’s hungry for success and fame. Unfortunately, her life choices make her the prime suspect in the murder of her friend, Beck Alden. The two go out on a canoe and only Cleo comes back. What exactly happened? Was it murder or an accident? The trial quickly turns into a media circus. Cleo was very much a narcissist, and I was astounded by her actions, but at the same time I couldn’t help but feel for her. She’s finally on the cusp of everything she’s dreamed about and then it all comes crashing down around her. The trial being held in the small, conservative town of Independence didn’t bode well for her either. With its limited pool of jurors, I wondered if an impartial decision would be possible. Fun fact for me: Independence is an actual California town that a friend of mine used to live in, which we would travel to and visit. It’s also on the way to Mammoth Mountain, a popular snow skiing spot we used to vacation at. The authors nailed it spot on with their descriptions! The story is told in episodes, as a fictional docu-drama with recorded court testimony and interviews of the key players, performed by a whole cast of characters. It felt like one of those old radio-dramas my dad would listen to late at night, and I loved it! Several of the narrators I’ve listened to before and thoroughly enjoyed their performances here: Santino Fontana, Hillary Huber, Marin Ireland, Vikas Adam, and Dan Bittner. I couldn’t recommend the audio version more! An audio copy was kindly provided by Libro.fm and HarperAudio in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    This book is the perfect audiobook to listen to. Told in the format of a docuseries I could not get enough of it. Highly recommend listening to this one if you get the opportunity. It has a full cast of narrators telling the story from the multiple points of view and it worked so well. At times ai had to remind myself that it was fiction as it was easy to think it was a real true crime story. I won’t say too much about the story so not to spoil it for anybody. Essentially it is about Cleo Ray, an This book is the perfect audiobook to listen to. Told in the format of a docuseries I could not get enough of it. Highly recommend listening to this one if you get the opportunity. It has a full cast of narrators telling the story from the multiple points of view and it worked so well. At times ai had to remind myself that it was fiction as it was easy to think it was a real true crime story. I won’t say too much about the story so not to spoil it for anybody. Essentially it is about Cleo Ray, an Instagram influencer who is accused of the murder of Beck Aldren. It tells the story of her arrest through to the court case and beyond. It is a really clever and addictive listen and really couldn’t get enough. I love a courtroom drama and all the shocks that they throw out. You get to know Cleo and my feelings about her were constantly changing. A fantastic story, lovers of crime fiction, true crime and podcasts will love it. Thanks to Libro .Fm for my first audiobook as part of the ALC program.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    2.5 stars. In all the Gatsby hubbub I hadn't realized that AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY also entered the public domain this year. (Full disclosure: I never read it, I went with SISTER CARRIE.) I didn't know this was an adaptation until I was well into it, and I doubt it will matter much for most readers, for what it's worth. This is the book version of a documentary, a weird format, though it looks much like the "oral history" style that is becoming more popular. It didn't make a ton of sense to me to tel 2.5 stars. In all the Gatsby hubbub I hadn't realized that AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY also entered the public domain this year. (Full disclosure: I never read it, I went with SISTER CARRIE.) I didn't know this was an adaptation until I was well into it, and I doubt it will matter much for most readers, for what it's worth. This is the book version of a documentary, a weird format, though it looks much like the "oral history" style that is becoming more popular. It didn't make a ton of sense to me to tell it this way, not when it started or when it was over, until I looked up the author and saw that it's a pseudonym for two TV writers. Then it made a lot of sense. Because mostly this feels like an extra long episode of Law & Order, with its efforts to have a super-current influencer storyline and the way it is completely about the legal system and yet in no way resembles the actual legal system. If you are looking for a courtroom drama, the book equivalent of one of those true crime docs or podcasts, then this is about as close as you'll get in novel form. About half or more of the book is set in the courtroom itself. There are opening statements and closing arguments given basically in full, long stretches of examination and cross-examination, even a whole section devoted to jury selection. If that's fun for you, great. If you require some accuracy to enjoy it, I have bad news I'll get to in a minute here. Mostly this was one of those books that I never understood what the point was. There aren't that many twists and turns. There are not really significant reveals. And because everyone is kept at a distance thanks to the documentary style, without looking at anything from anyone's close perspective, it's unclear what we're supposed to learn or what the authors want to say. To me, this is one reason why retellings should be done cautiously. There has to be a reason to update a story like this, simply turning a male character into a female one isn't enough. Simply adding "but with social media!" isn't it either. I never understood why the authors chose this story to tell and what they thought it meant about these characters or this moment. Maybe they have some deeper message that people who have read AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY will pick up on, but as I said, that's not me and I suspect it's not most readers. As promised, it's important to note that the level of legal accuracy you can expect here is TV show accuracy. Maybe a little worse. A murder trial less than two months after a murder? lol. The way everyone insists this small town DA is actually god's gift to a courtroom? Sure, Jan. When we got to the scene where at a meeting with an inmate IN A JAIL a character checked her phone and gave the inmate a snack I realized that while the writers had gone to some trouble to write their courtroom dialogue, they had left lots of other elements to be either fully not researched or they were not actually all that into accuracy. (Just try to take your phone into a meeting with an inmate. Just try! See how well that goes for you! Bake a file into a cake and take it with you while you're at it.) Anyway. This bugged me a lot and left me unsatisfied. I suspect a lot of people will enjoy it, because they do not have my particular pile of hangups. I am honestly happy for all of you! It certainly helps, as there are so few courtroom dramas these days.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carole (Carole's Random Life)

    This review can also be found at https://carolesrandomlife.com/ I had such a good time with this book! I have listened to a few audiobooks narrated by full casts and I usually really enjoy the experience so I jumped at the chance to review this book. The really liked the idea that this book was told as if it were a podcast and I couldn’t wait to see how the story would unfold. This book tells the story of Cleo Ray. Cleo is a very popular fitness influencer on Instagram and YouTube and her life is This review can also be found at https://carolesrandomlife.com/ I had such a good time with this book! I have listened to a few audiobooks narrated by full casts and I usually really enjoy the experience so I jumped at the chance to review this book. The really liked the idea that this book was told as if it were a podcast and I couldn’t wait to see how the story would unfold. This book tells the story of Cleo Ray. Cleo is a very popular fitness influencer on Instagram and YouTube and her life is more than a little complicated. Cleo and Beck go out on a remote lake and Beck is found dead in the water soon after with Cleo nowhere in sight. This story chronicles the events leading up to that day and the journey to justice. The book is told as a podcast where Cleo’s life and actions are looked at in great detail. There was plenty of excitement in this story. There were times that I thought that I had everything figured out only to learn something new that changed my whole perspective. This really was a complex story and there were a lot of surprises that popped up throughout the novel. Some characters are only met briefly but I thought that they all felt very authentic. The full cast narration of this book really took things to the next level. This is an all-star cast of narrators and they all did an amazing job with the book. The story was narrated in a manner that it really felt like I was listening to a pod cast complete with episode breaks. I loved the back and forth between the narrators and I thought that this style of narration was perfect for this book. I feel like audio is the way to go with this book and I really enjoyed the whole experience. I would recommend this book to others. I thought that it was incredibly well done and immensely entertaining. I would not hesitate to read more of this writing pair’s work in the future. I received a copy of this audiobook from HarperAudio via Libro.fm.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This debut novel by husband and wife screenwriters is set in the world of social media influencers. It reads like a script or transcript. The plot moves along swiftly and the characters are certainly compelling. I didn't see the twist at the end coming, which is always refreshing. Thank you to publisher William Morrow for providing me a trade paperback advanced readers edition. This debut novel by husband and wife screenwriters is set in the world of social media influencers. It reads like a script or transcript. The plot moves along swiftly and the characters are certainly compelling. I didn't see the twist at the end coming, which is always refreshing. Thank you to publisher William Morrow for providing me a trade paperback advanced readers edition.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Part of the marketing blurb for this book calls it an "utterly mesmerizing page-turner." Nailed it! Written in the format of a true crime docuseries, this psychological thriller is indeed mesmerizing. The characterizations are brilliant and the format for telling each character's part is riveting. Cleo Ray is a rising social media influencer with a problem. She's in love with two people: Beck Alden, a woman who is has just come out to her mother that she is gay and Sandy Finch, a male fellow inf Part of the marketing blurb for this book calls it an "utterly mesmerizing page-turner." Nailed it! Written in the format of a true crime docuseries, this psychological thriller is indeed mesmerizing. The characterizations are brilliant and the format for telling each character's part is riveting. Cleo Ray is a rising social media influencer with a problem. She's in love with two people: Beck Alden, a woman who is has just come out to her mother that she is gay and Sandy Finch, a male fellow influencer who, by association, can help her career. She must choose one and end the relationship with the other. She makes her choice but her decision results in Beck's death and Cleo's arrest for murder. The book follows the trial from multiple character's perspectives and exposes the many poor decisions and actions Cleo has made. As the docuseries plays out, the courtroom scenes are as dramatic as the personal relationships among the major characters are intriguing. The question as to Cleo's guilt or innocence keeps one turning pages to see what the verdict will be. The format for telling the story may not be original but it is executed to perfection. As a reader I was caught up in the drama of the lives of these characters and found myself rooting for a verdict that would satisfy my leanings as to Cleo's guilt or innocence. Which way I was leaning, I won't say. Go read the book yourself and see what you think. Did Cleo murder Beck? A special thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for this ARC. The publication date is May 11, 2021.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    I'm not sure what it was exactly that gave me all the feels reading this book, perhaps the final outcome, perhaps the theme of the often destructive nature of social media, perhaps the characters but for some reason I did have a strong emotional reaction when reading and especially after finishing. Told in documentary style, The Anatomy of Desire follows the rise and fall of social media influencer Cleo. Focusing very much on the characters and circumstance this novel looks at many relevant issu I'm not sure what it was exactly that gave me all the feels reading this book, perhaps the final outcome, perhaps the theme of the often destructive nature of social media, perhaps the characters but for some reason I did have a strong emotional reaction when reading and especially after finishing. Told in documentary style, The Anatomy of Desire follows the rise and fall of social media influencer Cleo. Focusing very much on the characters and circumstance this novel looks at many relevant issues including sense of self, attraction and love and how what we see happening out loud is very much not what goes on underneath. I just fell into it and afterwards was left with a strong sense of melancholy. It has a literary feel and an addictive quality that really appealed to me. Recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    The Bookend Diner

    “We all make mistakes — some worse than others. But, I don’t think it’s fair to label a person for the worst mistake they ever made.” Genre: Mystery/Thriller Pub Date: 5.11.21 Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ Y’all. This book. WOW!! It’s definitely going on my list of favorite books for 2021 and I’ve already recommended it to every person who will listen to me, I’ve even debated on listening to it again. Keyword: listen. I was gifted the audio version of this book through the LibroFM ALC program and when I saw “We all make mistakes — some worse than others. But, I don’t think it’s fair to label a person for the worst mistake they ever made.” Genre: Mystery/Thriller Pub Date: 5.11.21 Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ Y’all. This book. WOW!! It’s definitely going on my list of favorite books for 2021 and I’ve already recommended it to every person who will listen to me, I’ve even debated on listening to it again. Keyword: listen. I was gifted the audio version of this book through the LibroFM ALC program and when I saw the audiobook had a full cast of narrators, I moved it to the top of my list. I was hooked on the first chapter and then quickly tried to find every reason to continue listening (my house was spotless, meals for made for the week, laundry was done and the yard was taken care of). 🗣 A full cast of narrators 👩🏽‍⚖️🕵🏽 LOVED the courtroom/police procedural/legal aspects 🎙 Genuinely felt like I was listening to a true-crime podcast 📖 Each chapter was an “episode” 😅 Follow the case from start to finish 🥺 That ending… IFYKYK but 🤯 I’ve seen a few reviews of Anatomy of Desire where people didn’t care for the format of the book (it’s written interview style). If you’ve read Daisy Jones & the Six, it’s very similar to that. While I didn’t mind that format, the way to read this book is to listen. Seriously. If you love true crime then this is the (fictional) true-crime podcast for you.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ionarr

    This was overwhelmingly disappointing. The first issue is how it's written. The whole book is presented in the style of a documentary transcript. While I think this is great when it's done well (Daisy Jones and The Six, Rules For Vanishing) it completely fell flat here. There was nothing to break up the constant interview style, and it was all in very short snippets that made the book difficult to read. Instead of adding character or intrigue, it felt like reading a subpar Netflix documentary tr This was overwhelmingly disappointing. The first issue is how it's written. The whole book is presented in the style of a documentary transcript. While I think this is great when it's done well (Daisy Jones and The Six, Rules For Vanishing) it completely fell flat here. There was nothing to break up the constant interview style, and it was all in very short snippets that made the book difficult to read. Instead of adding character or intrigue, it felt like reading a subpar Netflix documentary transcript. It felt lacking, like you knew there should be something visual keeping your interest, adding context, fleshing out the brief sentences - but there wasn't, so the whole book ended up incredibly shallow. I actually think it might make a good Netflix adaptation, but it's not a good read. Then there's the plot, or lack of it. I know it's a re-writing, but the beauty of redoing something is that you have the bones. What a rewrite can do really well is add value, flesh out dropped plot lines, update and add intrigue. This... Flattened, if anything. Granted, I haven't read the original, so it's possible that book was even worse and this is an improvement; but somehow I doubt it. Characterisation, plot, narrative, everything is completely predictable and 2D and uninteresting. It's actually not badly written, despite the frustrating format choice; it just didn't hold my attention. That brings me to my major issue, the reason I hated this book instead of just chalking it up as a mediocre read that may find a better reception among different readers. The entire premise of this book is the Evil Bisexual Trope, a trope that was already insulting and outdated 20+ years ago. I want to give the benefit of the doubt and say the flipped genders and orientation choices were a misguided attempt at updating and relevance, but frankly I would have preferred no mention of anything other than straight existing to this. Our main "character" is a list of all the worst features of the Evil Bisexual Trope - manipulative, overly preoccupied with sex, attractive, cheating, using others for power and prestige, amoral, deceitful... Normally I'm not actually that bothered by EBT, because frankly most characters that fall into it are damned good fun and have some nuance or purpose, even if the nuance is "being a ham-fisted trope for the sake of cheesiness" (Buffy, Star Trek, The Talented Mr Ripley, etc). Unfortunately, that's not the case here. Here the EBT is used to full effect as the sole characterisation of the main character, and it's honestly upsetting. Even the book itself briefly brushes up against acknowledging this, before blindly continuing on as if there was an actual character here and not a collection of typical, insulting trope traits. It genuinely made me feel awful and brought up stuff I thought I'd dealt with years ago - which in fairness to the book, did at least mean I had one strong reaction to it, albeit a reaction I never want to have again. Whether intentionally or not, this book is incredibly biphobic, and it can't even be justified under "but art" because as I've already noted, it's also generally not very good, particularly AS a book. I hope it fades into obscurity, but if you do come across it and give it a go (it's probably someone's cup of tea): please, do not allow your bisexual (or anyone identifying as non-monosexual) friends to read this. They don't deserve it. And if you do read it, read something like this https://biresource.org/bi-info/mental... or this https://www.thetaskforce.org/bisexual... or this https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/... afterwards so you can understand exactly what's going on here and why these tropes are dangerous and help contribute to higher levels of substance abuse, sexual assault and suicide among bi+ people than any other sexual orientation.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura • lauralovestoread

    I sat with my thoughts on this one for a few days. I had both the physical copy and the audiobook ALC from Libro.fm and as I first started reading, I was so excited because it felt like I was really listening to a courtroom thriller about the murder of a love interest. I actually felt as if I was immersed in each scene. I loved the different POVs with an interview format as each character explained their story, and I appreciated the dual authors attempt at creating this book to feel that way. Yet I sat with my thoughts on this one for a few days. I had both the physical copy and the audiobook ALC from Libro.fm and as I first started reading, I was so excited because it felt like I was really listening to a courtroom thriller about the murder of a love interest. I actually felt as if I was immersed in each scene. I loved the different POVs with an interview format as each character explained their story, and I appreciated the dual authors attempt at creating this book to feel that way. Yet somehow I got disconnected and frustrated with the characters attitude towards the LGBTQIA community. It didn’t feel like a contemporary fiction, but a novel based in the 1980s. *many thanks to the publisher and Libro.fm for the ALC audiobook for review. All opinions are my own

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe

    Libro.fm has done it again, this time with a full cast audiobook! The Anatomy of Desire is the first audiobook I’ve listened to with a full cast and I loved it. It was so fun to hear the different voices and it made the book so easy to follow. This book was told in the form of a true crime documentary/podcast and I was here for it. It reminded me of Serial which was extra fun to listen to. The story was about Cleo, a social media influencer who has it all. She has worked hard to become a popular Libro.fm has done it again, this time with a full cast audiobook! The Anatomy of Desire is the first audiobook I’ve listened to with a full cast and I loved it. It was so fun to hear the different voices and it made the book so easy to follow. This book was told in the form of a true crime documentary/podcast and I was here for it. It reminded me of Serial which was extra fun to listen to. The story was about Cleo, a social media influencer who has it all. She has worked hard to become a popular fitness influencer and now she is being accused of murder. She was seen taking a canoe into a lake with Beck, another girl, who never comes back. What follows is the trial mixed with interviews and backstory. The story explores the characters of Beck and Cleo and how they were really involved with each other. The case brings up Cleo’s past and present, and how she got to where she is today. Thoughts: I loved the way the audiobook had the characters speaking through “transcripts” of recorded interviews. The execution was well done and reeled you in from the beginning. This was a fun and unique format that made you feel like you were really following the case. I can understand how reading this as opposed to listening to it would be confusing though, so keep that in mind. The story explored the darker side of success and influencer culture. It talked about desire and fame and addiction to technology. I loved the way the book made you feel like you were behind the scenes of a production. This is a retelling of An American Tragedy which I haven’t read, but would be interested in reading now. The courtroom aspects were not realistic at all, but still made an interesting subject. While there wasn’t a twist in this story, I still didn’t expect the ending. 4-stars for me!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie (That's What She Read)

    This was a retelling of an American Tragedy, that apparently became public domain recently. I was unfamiliar with the story before going into this. I listened to the audiobook through the Libro FM ALC program. I am a big fan of full cast audiobook productions, and this was advertised as a true crime podcast/docuseries. That part made the story readable. There were a lot of issues I had with the book, mainly the way sexuality was talked about, it seemed very outdated? I felt that it was trying to This was a retelling of an American Tragedy, that apparently became public domain recently. I was unfamiliar with the story before going into this. I listened to the audiobook through the Libro FM ALC program. I am a big fan of full cast audiobook productions, and this was advertised as a true crime podcast/docuseries. That part made the story readable. There were a lot of issues I had with the book, mainly the way sexuality was talked about, it seemed very outdated? I felt that it was trying to be modern, but the way they went about it fell into biphobic stereotypes and cliches. The dialogue was a bit cringy at times. The cringiest has to be the e-mails between Beck and Cleo. I understand that very few people's passionate love letters would hold up to public scrutiny, but the term "O-gasms" made me cringe every time I heard it. Expectation-wise this is much more a courtroom drama than anything else. There isn't much of a mystery element. The "surprises" that pop up throughout the trial aren't very surprising and unfortunately this fell a bit flat for me as a reading experience.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Taina Garcia

    I listened to the full-cast audiobook and absolutely LOVED this!! The narrators were excellent and brought the story to life. I was connected to the characters and was impressed with the unexpected twists. I highly recommend this in audio version.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brittney Rae

    I’m not quite sure what to say about this one. It wasn’t bad but I didn’t like it. A crime “thriller” featuring a fake celebrity/influencer really isn’t that exciting. The full cast audiobook is pretty cool though.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    A fabulous, fast-paced, and thoroughly enjoyable courtroom drama and crime thriller that I simply could not put down! A rare 4.5 stars from me -- and just when I thought I was spiraling down into a slump after reading so many ho hum novels. I'm back! Although familiar with the title and synopsis, I never read AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY, so I am not going to talk comparisons, contrasts, or analyze a re-imagining. This book, however, is perfectly poised to reflect current day obsessions with social media A fabulous, fast-paced, and thoroughly enjoyable courtroom drama and crime thriller that I simply could not put down! A rare 4.5 stars from me -- and just when I thought I was spiraling down into a slump after reading so many ho hum novels. I'm back! Although familiar with the title and synopsis, I never read AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY, so I am not going to talk comparisons, contrasts, or analyze a re-imagining. This book, however, is perfectly poised to reflect current day obsessions with social media and those who strive to reach success in a world of people who allow influencers and celebrities to become so important in their daily lives. The story here involves a young woman who has reached a pinnacle as a fitness influencer and life coach -- Cleo Ray (AKA Claire Griffith) has clawed her way to the top from a childhood she abandoned when she left her Bible thumping parents behind and ran away to California as a young teenager. Taken under the wing of her uncle, she is now ready to achieve even her wildest dreams. There's just one problem -- a love triangle that needs to be sorted. I absolutely loved the style of the narrative. The story is told in the form of a true crime documentary and the characters speak through strategically placed snippets of recorded interviews. You can just imagine this on film similar to anything you might see or hear on any of the crime podcasts or other social media outlets. Preferable to long segments of description and detail, you get the facts and point of view from all the players without a lot of unnecessary fluff. I found myself quite sympathetic to Cleo even as hard as it was to understand her choices and decisions. Despite it being the trial of a woman accused of cold blooded first degree murder, Cleo wasn't easy to put into a box. As the reader hears from the significant people connected to Cleo and to the trial/legal process, the conflicting points of view make for a very dynamic experience. This is a debut by a husband and wife duo and I hope they write more books in a similar vein. I've long been a true crime addict and this was a hit for me. Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow and Custom House for this e-book ARC to read, review, and recommend.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christine (Queen of Books)

    The Anatomy of Desire is a (fictional) true crime docuseries as a book, which I mostly listened to in full appreciation of the different narrators. It's a mystery well-suited to anyone who's ever enjoyed a true crime podcast or TV series. This time, the focus is on a social media influencer who went out on a lake with another woman... who winds up dead. What happened? How, why? And what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt? I enjoyed the listening experience -- I definitely got caught up in t The Anatomy of Desire is a (fictional) true crime docuseries as a book, which I mostly listened to in full appreciation of the different narrators. It's a mystery well-suited to anyone who's ever enjoyed a true crime podcast or TV series. This time, the focus is on a social media influencer who went out on a lake with another woman... who winds up dead. What happened? How, why? And what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt? I enjoyed the listening experience -- I definitely got caught up in the drama! But the book taps into some tropes and I, admittedly, am not sure if it did that in a really smart way (e.g., turning them on their head, acknowledging them to beat them down) or if it unwittingly perpetuated them. This might be a case of YMMV (based on your own personal experience and worldview). I'd love to know what you think, if you give this one a try! p.s. for all the You audiobook fans, Santino Fontana is a narrator in this one AND there's a character who goes by Beck! Thank you to William Morrow for a free copy of this title for review, as well as Harper Audio and libro.fm.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eva K (journeyofthepages)

    The Anatomy of Desire by L. R. Dorn is such a unique book and especially on audio! This is a full cast production of a docuseries-style novel and it is phenomenally written and executed. I really, really liked this book. It’s a true crime murder trial of an influencer who was raised by ultra religious parents. Super interesting and very well done! Thank you, @librofm, for an audiobook for review! Thank you, @netgalley and @williammorrowbooks, for an e-arc for review!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    Excellent full cast audiobook production and it suits the book’s format of the story being told like a docuseries/podcast. But there is hardly any tension or character development, also plays into the cheating bisexual trope which wasn’t fun.

  29. 5 out of 5

    debra

    It kept my interest 5 *s worth

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    This was such a fantastic book! I started to read the physical book early in May and then picked up the audio book to listen along with it. The audio features a full cast and they did a fantastic job of bringing the material to life! This was a reimagining of An American Tragedy and I thought the authors did a great job of modernizing the story and putting their own spin on it. I definitely felt like I was listening to a true crime podcast and was totally hooked. There were a few parts that felt This was such a fantastic book! I started to read the physical book early in May and then picked up the audio book to listen along with it. The audio features a full cast and they did a fantastic job of bringing the material to life! This was a reimagining of An American Tragedy and I thought the authors did a great job of modernizing the story and putting their own spin on it. I definitely felt like I was listening to a true crime podcast and was totally hooked. There were a few parts that felt like they were dragged out just a bit too long, especially in the trial, but overall the book progressed well and continuously gave new reveals in the case. There is a point near the end of the book that made me actually gasp out loud in surprise. This is written by the husband and wife duo Matt Dorff and Suzanne Dunn and their writing styles blended seamlessly. I thought they did a great job of showing the behind the scenes emotions, actions and histories of the main characters. Cleo makes some terrible choices and yet I couldn’t help myself from rooting for her. I highly recommend the audiobook for this one. 4.5/5⭐️ Thank you to William Morrow for my gifted print copy and to Libro.fm and Harper Audio for the ALC.

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