Author – Sharon Bolton
Published – 2011
Genre – Crime fiction
I really enjoyed Sharon Bolton’s debut, Sacrifice, so I was pleased to receive this review copy of Now You See Me from Transworld Books.
As with her first book, there’s no preamble or scene-setting here – Bolton takes the reader straight into the action with the opening line “A dead woman was leaning against my car.” The car in question belongs to Detective Constable Lacey Flint, a twenty-something, inexperienced London police officer. The brutal murder of a woman in broad daylight on a London housing estate sets a police investigation in motion, and carrying the evidence of the dead woman’s blood on her, Flint seems likely to only have a peripheral involvement.
It was good to see the character of DI Dana Tulloch, who appeared in Sacrifice, take charge of the investigation, and she’s accompanied at the first crime scene by another DI – Mark Joesbury. Joesbury is part of a covert operations team, but bored during a period of convalescence he makes his presence felt in Tulloch’s investigation.
Perhaps so that the senior officers can keep a keep a closer eye on her, Flint finds herself temporarily attached to the investigating team. However, she earns her place when it becomes apparent that she is an expert on Jack the Ripper, and the initial attack appears to be a copycat of a Ripper murder. In fact, Flint herself is mentioned by name in a note sent to a local journalist, suggesting that there may be more of a connection to her than just coincidence!
In true Ripper style the murders which occur are pretty gruesome, although on the upside (if there is one) this is mostly when the investigators find the remains, rather than being privy to the details of the horrific attacks when they happen. As the killer continues their onslaught it becomes apparent that there is a method to their madness, and the implications are not good for Flint.
Although this was an unusual slant on the Jack the Ripper copycat serial killer, it does feel like quite a recurring theme in crime fiction. Personally I found it difficult, especially in the early part of the book, not to draw parallels with the first series of Whitechapel on TV, which proved a little distracting. .
There is a “will they, won’t they” aspect to Flint’s relationship with Joesbury, something that probably works better for me on a screen than it does in print. I’m thinking of Moonlighting, Castle and the TV series of Bones, where it adds an extra dimension to the stories, but in print I think it falls a bit flat.
In some ways the book felt a little inconsistent – for several reasons Flint is keen to keep a low profile, something she keeps reminding herself, but there she is at the heart of the investigation into these gruesome crimes. It’s also surprising that Joesbury becomes as involved as he does when he’s nothing to do with the investigating team.
But these are minor quibbles – this a gripping police-procedural with a psychological aspect and a few twists and turns along the way before reaching a thrilling climax.
Score – 4/5