Book Review: The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn

Book Review: The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn


Claire Griffith has it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous boyfriend, glamorous friends. She always knew she was destined for more than the life her conservative parents preached to her. Arriving in Los Angeles flat broke, she has risen to become a popular fitness coach and social media influencer. Having rebranded herself as Cleo Ray, she stands at the threshold of realizing her biggest dreams.

One summer day, Cleo and a woman named Beck Alden set off in a canoe on a serene mountain lake. An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water and Cleo is missing. Authorities suspect foul play, and news of Cleo’s involvement goes viral. Who was Beck? An infatuated follower? Were she and Cleo friends or lovers? Was Beck’s death an accident . . . or murder?

Told in the form of an immersive investigative docuseries, L. R. Dorn’s brilliant reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s classic crime drama, An American Tragedy, captures the urgency and poignance of the original and rekindles it as a very contemporary and utterly mesmerizing page-turner.

My Review:

Thank you to and Harper Audio for the gifted audio copy, all opinions are my own.

I didn’t learn until the author’s note at the end of the book that this is a retelling of An American Tragedy, which is a story I am not familiar with, but that I think is worth mentioning in case you are. I can’t compare the original and the retelling since I have never read the original, but Anatomy of Desire had a very modern feel to it. The novel is told as a podcast style docu-series for starters, which made the full cast audio narration feel extra important. It also focuses a lot on social media and how it became such a large part of the lives of several characters.  Social media was referred to as an addiction at one point and it altered the choices and directions the character’s lives took, which is ulta reflective of our current culture in America right now. 

Of course I  enjoyed the full cast narration, but I also found the novel very reflective and an interesting examination of the effects of trauma on how people make choices in their lives and move forward. The main character made some unusual decisions that made her appear in a negative light, but then getting to learn about the trauma in her past, it started to make sense. In the end, she was able to start to make these connections for herself and it was very inspiring. 

This was easily a five star read for me, one of those kind of books that you think about when you aren’t reading it and can’t wait to get back to! And while it seems to be marketed as a thriller, and a crime is the central plot point, I do think that a variety of readers would enjoy this one!

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