Title: Now You See Me
Author: S. J. Bolton
Publisher: Transworld Digital (Kindle edition)
Read: January 25-28, 2013
One night after interviewing a reluctant witness at a London apartment complex, Lacey Flint, a young detective constable, stumbles onto a woman brutally stabbed just moments before in the building’s darkened parking lot. Within twenty-four hours a reporter receives an anonymous letter that points out alarming similarities between the murder and Jack the Ripper’s first murder—a letter that calls out Lacey by name. If it’s real, and they have a killer bent on re-creating London’s bloody past, history shows they have just five days until the next attempt.
No one believes the connections are anything more than a sadistic killer’s game, not even Lacey, whom the killer seems to be taunting specifically. However, as they investigate the details of the case start reminding her more and more of a part of her past she’d rather keep hidden. And the only way to do that is to catch the killer herself.
Fast paced and completely riveting, S. J. Bolton’s Now You See Me is a modern gothic novel that is nothing less than a masterpiece of suspense fiction.
I first fell in love with S J Bolton’s books when reading Awakening earlier this year, and this dark, atmospheric and scary thriller also didn’t disappoint. In fact, I couldn’t put it down!
DC Lacey Flint thought that she had finally left her traumatic past behind when she was accepted into the British police force three years ago. Now a detective based in Southwark, London, Lacey investigates mainly crimes against women and considers herself to be a low profile girl, one who keeps to herself, a person who doesn’t rock the boat or draw attention to herself. One night, after visiting a victim of a gang-rape Lacey is investigating, a woman is brutally stabbed in an alleyway only seconds before Lacey gets there, and dies in her arms. A short while later, a local reporter receives a note which links the woman’s murder to the famous Jack the Ripper killings in late 19th century London. Now an important witness and a bit of an expert when it comes to historic facts about Jack the Ripper, Lacey gets drawn into the murder investigation in an effort to catch the copy-cat killer before any more lives are lost. But more victims soon follow, with the brutality of the crimes escalating. As it becomes obvious that the killer is leaving special personal clues for Lacey, and that the murders may be linked to events in her past she thought she had left behind for good, Lacey not only becomes a target herself but in the eyes of some of her colleagues she may even be a suspect.
With Lacey Flint, Bolton has once more proven her talent for creating a believable, flesh-and-blood protagonist who carries heavy burdens of the past and scars that run deep. Slowly, as layer after layer is peeled away, the reader catches glimpses of the real Lacey – and there are many surprises and twists, with a final revelation which will shock and surprise. Despite her many issues, and the secrecy surrounding Lacey like a dark cloak, I found her plucky and enigmatic, and feared for her safety when she is suddenly thrust into the path of a sadistic killer. Yearning for love, like many of Bolton’s protagonists, Lacey’s past never fully allows her to get close enough to other people to fulfil that need. Her budding attraction to DI Mark Joesbury shows Lacey’s vulnerable side and makes her all the more human – and likeable. As in Awakening, the romance in the novel was just enough to add a bit of hope, but not too much to distract from the main storyline – this is a fine balance which Bolton seems to have mastered very well.
As the body count rises, and the murders become more brutal and graphic, it is impossible not to feel a shiver travel up one’s spine in fear and disgust. This book is not for the faint-hearted! Like a cleverly constructed horror movie Bolton skilfully sets the scene: deserted old Victorian buildings, monsters lurking in the shadows, an eerie tune playing in the background, footsteps in the dark, a horrific scream echoing in the distance – I pulled my doona right up to my nose and refused to go to the bathroom without all the lights on, despite my sleeping husband’s protests. In creating an atmosphere of dread and fear, one can see why Bolton has been named the”high priestess of rural gothic crime” in the past. I still shudder to think of the underground canals Lacey has to traverse in the middle of the night, rats and all – ugh!
What I like most about Bolton’s novels, apart from the spook-factor, are the facts strewn throughout the story which provide a strong foundation for her novels. In Awakening, it was information about snakes and other creepy-crawleys. In this novel the reader learns many historic details about Jack the Ripper and his victims, as well as the different popular theories about his identity. I was thoroughly intrigued. It’s a win-win situation – entertainment plus a history lesson all in one. If only our history lessons at school had been as much fun!
Bolton is in a class of her own, and I intend on reading a lot more from this author. Highly recommended for fans of police procedurals and spooky thrillers, who are looking for that extra chill factor.