Title: Now You See Me
Publisher: Bantam Press
Hardback: 391 pages
Publication Date: 26/05/2011
If there are any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in this review then it’s not my fault. I’m currently typing on my laptop whilst hidden under my bed in complete darkness. The curtains are drawn tight and the doors and windows are firmly bolted. Why? Because I’ve just finished S.J. Bolton’s latest crime thriller, Now You See Me, and am now too terrified to venture out onto the mean streets of London. Bolton’s main character, DC Lacey Flint, lives on Wandsworth Road [a couple of miles from where I live] and much of the novel takes place in and around South London. In fact, the only time I was able to slightly relax whilst reading this book was when the action decamped to Wales for a bit!
Now You See Me begins in grisly fashion, with a dying woman staggering into Lacey’s arms on a run-down London estate, her throat and stomach having been brutally ripped open only moments before. But this is no coincidence. For, shortly afterwards, a journalist receives a Dear Boss letter [similar to the bloody missives that the police received from Saucy Jack back in 1888], one that mentions Lacey by name. It seems that Lacey has become the focus for a Jack the Ripper copycat killer [well, this is crime fiction – it would almost feel like a con in a serial killer wasn’t personally taking an interest in the novel’s main protagonist!]. And as more gruesome murders are committed on the anniversaries of Ripper killings, you know that the killer is moving inexorably towards Lacey.
Much like in Bolton’s previous novels, Now You See Me revolves around a flawed and unreliable narrator. Lacey has obviously had a dysfunctional upbringing [she admits it in her narration], but the reader begins to suspect fairly early on in the proceedings that she is hiding a number of secrets [and the fact that she is so interested in Ripper lore makes her seem even more suspect!]. However, for me, her relationship with fellow police officer Mark Joesbury is brilliant and the stand out element of the book. Especially as Joesbury is an equally conflicted character – one torn between his attraction to Lacey and the fact that he suspects her of being more involved in the killings than she’s letting on.
So I was incredibly pleased to hear that Bolton has finally decided to begin writing a series, using Lacey and Joesbury [all of her previous novels have been standalones].
But, whilst the two main characters are both police officers, this is not a police procedural. That’s not to say that that the police elements aren’t authentically and realistically written [because they are], but rather that the focus of the book is the psychological – making Now You See Me a psychological thriller set within the framework of a police procedural. Fast-paced, written with razor-sharp prose and with some brilliantly bloody set-pieces and plot twists, Now You See Me is a clammily suspenseful read and I look forward to seeing Lacey Flint and Mark Joesbury again.
PS. After reading this novel you will never be able to listen to Julie Andrews singing ‘My Favourite Things’ in The Sound of Music in the same way again!!