You by Caroline Kepnes

I was recommended this book by a friend who suggested that I might like it because of the unusual way in which the story is told – and she wasn’t wrong.

Told from the perspective of a young teenager, the entirety of You is told in the second person, addressed to the object of the man’s affection – a creative writing student called Beck. As a piece of fiction, it was refreshing to read something that was told in a completely unique way as the reader is allowed to delve into the deepest thoughts of the narrator as he becomes more and more obsessed with Beck, often resulting in him committing serious criminal acts.

This tale of a deluded stalker is so wonderfully put together that, even as you grow to hate him more, you get sucked into his story and, by the end of the story, you find yourself almost sympathetic with his plight. Despite the horrific actions he undertakes (and there are truly some awful moments that are not for the faint hearted) you find yourself almost routing for the narrator and almost grow to despise Beck, even though she is technically the victim of the piece.

However, it is not all good for this novel. Once you get past the masterful characterisation and the unique way of telling the story, and finally analyse the story for what it is, you’re left feeling rather underwhelmed. Other readers have commented that the ending is a superb twist to a great story but, for my part, it felt rather predictable and almost seemed telegraphed from the very early stages of the book.

Whenever something truly horrifying happened it felt somehow inevitable and therefore held very little shock value for me. In fact, the one time when I did find myself shocked was when he was distracted from his intentions by something that truly focussed his obsession once again.

Which I think was the point in the end…

There’s no denying that this book is a good read – although the use of the word good seems rather inappropriate. Its blunt and crude method of addressing the act of obsession is both effective and hypnotic. I would certainly recommend that this is a book that is read – but I’d be careful about what you take away from it…

Four out of five. Effective story telling, but lacklustre story… In my opinion at least.

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Call for Beta Readers!

For me, 2016 has already been an exciting year.

I’ve met my 4-month-old nephew for the first time, and I may have introduced him to some music that my sister may not thank me for later on in life, and my dear mother has finally received recognition for hard work and dedication to young and disabled people with an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List. Needless to say, the whole family is chuffed.

And it has got me thinking about my goals in life – where I want to be by the time that 2017 rolls around.

I had already decided that I was going to publish my first DS Giles short novel, The Bluebell Informant, this year and I am getting married in May, which promises to be a bash to be remembered. But I hadn’t really thought beyond that – it was always really a case of ‘I’ll get on that later’.

And then later arrived… and I hadn’t really got any further.

That was until I read a short book by Tim Grahl, ‘Book Launch Blueprint: The Step-by-Step Guide to a Bestselling Launch‘ – and, particularly if you are a budding writer yourself, I recommend that you read it for it truly is an eye-opener.

In this book, Tim Grahl outlines his steps to launching a book which, in itself is quite a find for anyone writing nowadays. But what I took from it the most was a little comment he makes about setting targets for yourself. Without them, he suggests, you have no way of measuring success and, ironically enough, you are therefore far more likely to ‘fail’.

And I can see his point.

So I’m going to start 2016 the way I mean to go on.

I’m going to take those steps that I had always assumed I would have to do later.

And I’m going to need help. 

Which is what today’s post is all about.

This year I will be launching The Bluebell Informant. I have a good idea of how many copies I want to sell in the first month (but I will keep that under my hat for the moment) and I have a good idea of how to get there.

And my first step is to get people actually reading the thing.

I need some Beta readers – people who love crime fiction, who enjoy British based crime thrillers.

I need people who will be able to give me some short reviews that I can use to help promote my work and sort out any problems that may arise with the story (for there are bound to be at the very least a few).

People who will help me launch this book and join me on the roller-coaster ride that will follow.

If that sounds like you, then comment below or contact me through goodreads.com or my website. You’ll get a free, first look at The Bluebell Informant and be a part of getting this story out to as many people as possible.

It’s going to be a blast…

The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons – A Review

The sequel to Tony Parsons’ The Murder Bag was a book I had been looking to read for quite a long while. Having absolutely devoured The Murder Bag at the beginning of last year, I was eager to dive into the next installment of the DC Max Wolfe series and in many ways I wasn’t disappointed.

The Slaughter Man is a superbly researched thriller in which our single father, Max Wolfe, investigates the multiple murder of a wealthy family who live within a gated community that backs on to Highgate Cemetery. Like the previous story, the case echoes a notorious (yet fictional) 1970s case in which a traveler named Peter Nawkins brutally killed his fiancée’s family after they tried to stop him from marrying her.

As Wolfe races to piece together the crime, he finds himself once again stood in the Metropolitan Police’s Black Museum where, once again, history might hold the key to solving this brutal murder.

Parsons’ story is excellently told. His descriptions of London, and his will to treat it as though it were another character in the book, really brings the story to life and, once again, his nod to how history can help the present really helps drive the story along.

However, as with the previous installment, I found it hard to get started. The first few chapters seemed to struggle and it was only when the story picked up pace that I found myself gripped by the story. At times, I did begin to wonder whether I would have managed to continue to the very end of The Slaughter Man had I not read the first installment.

But that is all academic really. I did get to the end of it and, although I found the ending to be a little unsatisfactory, it was still a relatively good read. If you have read the first installment, I highly recommend reading this second edition.

4 out of 5 stars. All the makings of a truly great crime novel but trips over itself a little on the way.