If you haven’t watched the show or read the book – it’s okay, I’ve got you covered. This is a breakdown of the book. If you don’t want spoilers, I suggest you skip this one! But if you want to know about this one, here we go!
Joe is a stalker.
One day Joe is working in the bookstore he’s been employed at since he was fifteen years old and mentored by a strange man named Mr. Mooney who had some very odd ways to teach Joe about life. In this bookstore, one day while Joe is working, a young woman named Beck comes in the buy a book. She pays with credit card.
Joe likes to narrate everything by talking to Beck. His constant narration is done in observation of Beck about herself. For example he might say something like “you pay with credit card, not cash, Beck, even though we both know you have enough cash in your wallet to cover the cost of the book. But no, you pay with credit card because you want me to know your name and now I do because it’s on your credit card, Beck.” Which is a very strange narrative style but considering he’s a stalker, it’s actually very fitting.
So Beck buys a book because she wants him to know her name and from there Joe begins to stalk her. He finds out where she lives and a ton of information about her because he follows her around and obsessively checks her Twitter and various other social media platforms.
He trails her for a few days before he ends up at one of her short story readings (oh yes, Beck is a writer who is under appreciated and Joe is the only one who truly understands her brilliant writing) and sits near her friends in an opposite booth where he listens to thme talk garbage about everyone and everything, including their best friend, Beck.
After the reading he follows her to the subway where she’s too preoccupied by her phone and social accounts that she slips and falls onto the tracks where Joe is heroically able to save her life before she’s killed.
They share a cab back to her place where he steals her phone and because Beck is a clumsy, unaware human being she has, naturally, lost many phones so the most logical thing for her to do is not tell her mother (who pays her phone bill) that she’s lost yet another phone and instead simply gets a new one with a new number and lets her mother keep paying for the phone Joe is now obsessively monitoring because Beck prefers email to text message since it’s more “permanent.”
But on their way to her house, when she gets out of the cab they bump into Benji who Joe has watched Beck have sex with on many different occasions. Benji is really just leading Beck on and Joe knows it’s for her own good to get her to move on from him.
So he lures Benji into the bookstore under false pretences and brings him down to the bookstore basement where a very large cage is nestled in a sound proof room underground. This cage was Mr. Mooney’s way of protecting the expensive and rare first editions they sometimes manage to sell. But the cage locks and Benji is left inside for days while Joe goes back and forth between Beck, who he’s trying to woo, and Benji who he’s trying to keep alive and quiet.
Joe also takes Benji’s phone and starts posting various Tweets from his account, implying that he’s off on a bender somewhere with other women. Beck sees all of it and is understandably upset that the guy she likes is treating her like trash.
After a few days in the cage, and with Beck still willing to give Benji another shot, Joe decides it would just be easier if Benji were dead and he had no competition. So he kills him.
But that’s not the only person Joe needs to worry about. On every date he takes Beck on, her old friend Peach interrupts with medical emergencies or fake break ins and Beck rushes to her side every time, kicking Joe out. And they still haven’t had sex yet.
Eventually Joe finds some inappropriate photos of Beck hidden in Peach’s room and realizes she wants Beck as much as he does. Naturally he murders her, as well.
Then he begins to deal with Beck’s therapist Dr. Nikky who he feels wants Beck. Moments before he’s about to kill the therapist Beck finally calls him back.
Beck has basically been hot and cold. She’ll want to see him a lot for a week or two and then she ghosts him for three months.
Finally, they’re a couple and it’s perfect and wonderful. And then he doesn’t hear from her for a few weeks. But then they’re together again. Everything is going fine, as far as Joe is concerned, until of course he finds proof that Beck has been sleeping with her therapist and cheating on Joe. So then he does kill Dr. Nikky.
At this point, though, Beck has found the “Box of Beck” hidden in a whole in the wall at Joe’s apartment. The box contains weird things he’s kept of Beck’s. Some emails, her writing, a pair of her panties, her high school yearbook, and of course a used tampon.
With good reason she starts screaming and fighting him when he gets home and he tries to talk her down (because after all she violated his privacy by opening his box!) Sadly, he can’t calm her so he knocks her out and drags her back to the bookstore he works at, and down to the cage.
He tries to calm her down when she becomes conscious again and eventually (after days in the cage as well as a test she’s supposed to pass, which have only correct, very specific answers – aka the answer Joe wants to hear) he makes her read The DaVinci Code. She spends a few more days making him believe she’s seen the light, and realizes she does love him and wants to live happily ever after. He ends up leaving the cage open after they have sex in it, and he goes back up to the bookstore to wash up. He feels she loves him so much now that he doesn’t need to lock up.
But of course she makes a run for it, but can’t unlock the front door of the store (which is weird because the door looks from the inside and apparently requires a key to unlock from the inside out, which she doesn’t have.)
Joe ends up catching her while she struggles to find a way to open the door or to get someone’s attention on the street outside (although it’s around one in the morning so not many people are out.) Joe gets her, tries to calm her, but eventually ends up strangling her to death because she won’t stop fighting him.
The story ends with Joe burying Beck’s body while listening to an outdoor wedding far enough away that they can’t see what he’s doing but he can hear them.
Afterward, he’s back in the book store working and a mysterious girl who had come in to buy a book weeks before with a stolen credit card, comes into the store to see if he’s hiring. He is. She’s next.