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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Gritty British Murder Mystery Is Can't-Look-Away Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Lacey Flint is as enigmatic and complex as her contradictory name indicates.  As a detective constable with the London police, the 29-year-old's official assignment is locating stolen property. Her real passion, however, is helping victims of sexual assault get justice.  It's while moonlighting at a seedy apartment complex that Lacey finds herself cradling a walking corpse.  With a gaping neck wound, the woman is obviously the victim of a brutal attack—one that happened just moments ago.  As the life ebbs out of the stranger, Lacey summons her colleagues, but no one can help her now.

Although Lacey knows nothing about the murder, it's clear that the inscrutable DI Mark Joesbury suspects her of something.  When the police receive an anonymous letter that not only compares the recent murder to Jack the Ripper's first killing but also calls Lacey out by name, Joesbury's ready to arrest her.  DI Dana Tulloch holds him off.  Instead of booking DC Flint, she recruits her to help investigate a killer who seems bent on re-creating Jack the Ripper's greatest hits.  With innocent lives at stake, all hands are needed on deck.  Even those of suspected murderer Lacey Flint.

The more the young detective digs into the case, the more alarmed she becomes. Someone is playing a sadistic game, one that seems directed at her specifically.  With secrets she keeps very well hidden, Lacey can't afford to spend any time in the spotlight.  In order to protect herself from unwanted attention and save more women from being killed, she must stop a smart, bloodthirsty murderer.  But how?  Can she put the puzzle pieces together in time?  Or will she become the killer's next victim?

Now You See Me, the first installment in Sharon (S.J.) Bolton's Lacey Flint series, is not an easy read.  It's dark.  It's gruesome.  It's bleak.  Much more so than I expected after reading my first Bolton book, a standalone called Little Black Lies.  And yet, I couldn't put Now You See Me down.  Lacey is an intriguing character, well-developed but still mysterious.  With her at the helm of a story as tense and twisty as this one, I literally couldn't look away.  Not until 2 a.m. when I finished the book, still stunned by its revelations.  Thoroughly hooked by Bolton's irresistible storytelling powers, I put the rest of the series on hold and proceeded to binge-read everything the author's ever written.  Her novels are that good.  While Little Black Lies remains my favorite of the bunch, I'm addicted to the Lacey Flint series.  Now You See Me is a mesmerizing mystery, a compelling start to a series that never fails to grab me, shake me up, and keep me guessing until the wee hours of the morning.  If you like gritty British mystery/thrillers, you can't go wrong with the incomparable Sharon Bolton. 

(Readalikes:  Other books in the Lacey Flint series, including If Snow Hadn't Fallen [novella]; Dead Scared; Lost; A Dark and Twisted Tide; and Here Be Dragons [novella])


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, blood/gore, sexual content, depictions of illegal drug use, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. This was the first Bolton novel I ever read and it blew me away. I think it'll always be my favorite for that reason. But I've yet to read a book by her that I didn't love. :)

  2. You're making me want to get back into mystery books!


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