Title: Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1)
Author: S.J. Bolton
Publication date: June 13, 2011
Publisher: Bantam Press (Transworld Publishers)
Length: 395 pages
Age group: Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
Despite her life-long fascination with Jack the Ripper, young detective constable Lacey Flint has never worked a murder case or seen a corpse up close. Until now…
As she arrives at her car one evening, Lacey is horrified to find a woman slumped over the door. She has been brutally stabbed, and dies in Lacey’s arms. Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey will stop at nothing to find this savage killer. But her big case will also be the start of a very personal nightmare.
When Lacey receives a familiar letter, written in blood, pre-fixed Dear Boss, and hand delivered, it is clear that a Ripper copycat is at large. And one who is fixated on Lacey herself. Can this inexperienced detective outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?
What made me interested in Now You See Me is, as morbid as it may sound, a fascination with serial killers on both the main character’s and my part. Since I’ve always been fascinated by these people myself, I was curious to see how Bolton would incorporate the Ripper myth into her story and how it would work in a twenty-first century novel.
The book certainly has a compelling set-up. The original Jack the Ripper, a sadistic serial killer known for his brutality and keeping London’s population in complete terror for several years, has never been found. So the idea of someone attempting to do the same (and get away with it) in an age where CCTV cameras are everywhere and the police force is a lot more resourceful than it was back in the nineteenth century made me prick up my ears. How does a criminal plan to get away with at least five murders when a) the police know every tiny detail about the original murders and probably have an idea what to look for in a similar case or what to expect from a copycat killer and b) modern technology and forensics make the police’s work considerably faster and easier, and the killers’ a lot more difficult. I had a feeling it was going to be a gripping read but I wasn’t fully prepared for what was yet to come. Saying that I enjoyed reading this book would be the understatement of the year. It’s been almost two weeks since I finished Now You See Me but thinking about it still sends shivers down my spine. I was reading it for three days in a row and I literally couldn’t put it down.
I seriously can’t tell you one thing that’s missing from the book or anything I would have liked to be done differently. I loved this book for so many different reasons and while I know this review is going to be terribly long if I carry on like this, I’d like to highlight some of the things that stood out for me the most.
The first thing I need to emphasize here is that the book is extremely well researched and you can see how much work went into just looking up facts and theories about Jack the Ripper. One of the things I enjoyed the most is perhaps how much information there is about the original Whitechapel murders – through Lacey’s monologues Bolton gives us a very detailed picture of Jack himself (or herself, according to some theories) and all five of his victims, down to the tiniest detail. And by doing so, not only did the author make the story more gripping but she made me want to find out even more about the Ripper and read some of these theories that are mentioned in the book (one of them being that Jack might have, in fact, been a woman), and do some research myself. I’ve never tried reading any true crime before but thanks to S.J. Bolton, now I will.
Another thing I loved about the book is the three main characters. Out of these three, two are women which, and forgive me for being a tiny bit biased here, I was quite thrilled about. There are so few thrillers out there with powerful female characters and female detectives in particular that Bolton’s book was something new and refreshing in this respect. I wasn’t really keen on Lacey’s character at first and couldn’t decide what to make of her but all this has changed after a few chapters. Dana, Lacey’s boss, on the other hand became my favourite character in an instant and I can only hope she returns in the second instalment.
On top these, the plot is original and is full of twists and turns and it is literally impossible to predict the ending or put the book down. It kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to the end and there was literally not one dull moment. When you think you’ve seen it all and figured it all out, you turn to the next page and realise just how wrong you were. Bolton gradually builds up the tension and ends her story with a bang (and a huge twist which I didn’t see coming at all, I might add), but there are no unanswered questions or cliffhangers at all, which I’m really happy about.
Finally, I have to warn you that while I absolutely loved this book, it might not be for everyone. It’s not one of those stories that need blood and gore to be good, far from it, but there’s plenty of both so if you’re looking for a cozy mystery, this is definitely not for you. As I said, Bolton gives us a very detailed picture of the five victims and the killer’s brutality, so if you’re looking for something light and humorous, you’d better find something else.
That being said, S.J. Bolton has definitely become one of my favourite authors and Now You See Me one of my favourite books of all time. It’s probably the biggest and easiest five star rating I’ve ever given here on the blog – it simply blew me away. I can’t wait to read the sequel!
“Leaves, mud and grass deaden sound. Even screams. The girl knows this. Any sound she might make can’t possibly travel the quarter-mile to the car headlights and street lamps, to the illuminated windows of tall buildings that she can see beyond the wall. The nearby city isn’t going to help her and screaming will just burn up energy she can’t spare. She’s alone. A moment ago she wasn’t.”