Friday 12 February 2010

Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker

(this edition) 25th January 2010, Allison and Busby
386 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Thriller, Crime

Cushions: 5
Daggers: 4
Paperclips: 3 (infrequent - summary used in review contains language)
Smiles: 2
Tissues: 5
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Summary from Allison and Busby

forward this email to ten friends each of those friends must forward it to ten friends maybe one of those friends of friends of friends will be one of my friends if this email ends up in my inbox within a week I won’t slit the bitch’s throat can you afford not to send this onto ten friends? Vacation Killer

Leo Sharpe’s life is shattered when his wife Laura suddenly disappears. His desperate need to find her turns to obsession when he becomes convinced she’s the latest victim of The Vacation Killer who has claimed eleven lives already – is Laura going to be the twelfth? The MO is the same every time – a woman disappears and within hours inboxes around the world receive a threatening email. A few days later, grim evidence of the victim’s death is delivered to the police. But in Laura’s case, nothing is sent. Has the killer spared her life? Why? And for how long? For Leo, the clock is ticking…he needs to do everything in his power to stop the killer before it’s too late.

I have mixed views on chain emails. Sometimes they have sweet messages that I might forward on. Others provide humour on a dark day. Most I don't forward because I dislike the superstition attached to them. However, I would be forwarding the email from the killer to everyone I know. It's a brilliant concept - I just hope no lunatic ever does it for real.

There's a realistic buildup of Leo's sweet relationship with his wife. As a reader this increased my emotional interest in Leo from the outset of the story. I didn't even peek at the ending, which is something I often do. I wanted to be oblivious to the ending until I reached it.

I felt like I was experiencing the whole horror Leo faced for myself. The powerful writing had my stomach in knots. My heart twinged as he developed mild obsessions which were probably his way of coping with all the uncertainty of the situation. The strong feelings of guilt were understandable and touching.

There were chilling plot twists which made me gasp out loud. I didn't even try to figure out what would happen next. There was a particularly good use of the senses within the story, in particular the sense of smell.

The book plot took off in a direction I never saw coming. It highlighted some sick, twisted uses of the internet which were morally questionable. However, what was pleasantly surprising is that these issues were not talked about in much detail. There was nothing particularly graphic, only suggestions of what was happening.

Although I knew it was a crime novel, there hadn't been much gore in the early part of the story so I naively assumed it was more a suspense story than gore. One part unexpectedly made me feel sick: a good - if a little unpleasant - sign of a well written book.-

I had a few questions while reading the book. If the police were truely monitoring Leo's movements, why didn't they bug his laptop? These days a lot can be discovered about a person by looking at their history folder and their favourite sites. Also I kept wondering why the killer wouldn't commit a murder if they had the email sent back?

I liked how the slightly negative effects of a missing person on people who are acquainted with Leo were noted in the story. It made me stop and think: previously I only half-listened to missing persons news bulletins. Now I've got a wider knowledge of the extent of the impact on everyone's life.

Check out Richard Jay Parker's website. I would post the video trailer, but it freaked me out a bit (not the wisest thing to watch before bed) and the language isn't suitable for all.

For a darker crime thriller try Captured by Neil Cross

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