Now You See Me by S J Bolton aka Sharon Bolton

Now You See MeLondon, present day. DC Lacey Flint has an obsession with the long-unsolved mystery of Jack the Ripper, but has yet to be involved in a murder case. But when a dying woman accosts her in the street, she is engulfed in a psychopath’s deadly games. A psychopath who seems determined to emulate Lacey’s “hero”.

It soon becomes clear, however, that this is more than a random killer. The victims have a link to an horrific event from the past. And the killer seems to think that Lacey herself may be involved as well –  as do some of her colleagues…

Not my usual cup of tea, as regular readers of the blog will realise, but every now and then I like to have a look at something a little different from the genre – that is the raison d’être of the blog after all. And there’s another reason, which I’ll come to in a bit, even though it makes me look a bit stupid…

OK, on the basis of the plot summary, I’d fully expect some of my regular readers to have stopped reading, or to have already written this one off. Another Jack the Ripper thriller, guts and gore all over the place, a generic Tesco shelf-filler-thriller, why should I bother with this?

Basically, the first reason would be that it’s rather good. No, scratch that, it’s very good. Yes, it’s a twisty-turny thriller, rather than a clue-laden whodunnit, but there are plenty of hints as to the truth of what is going on and while you’re looking more at a jigsaw puzzle style thriller rather than a logic problem, the plot is full of little surprises.

Second reason, despite what you might suspect, this isn’t a blood-and-gore soaked slaughterfest. Yes, you can’t do a Jack the Ripper story without getting your pages a bit dirty, but this isn’t the sort of book that dwells on the gore. There’s enough to let you know that horrific things are happening, but the author realises that there is no need to focus on that. Notably, we don’t see an internal monologue from the killer about how much fun they’re having. The details of the crimes are not the selling point of the book, and readers with sensitive stomachs will probably be okay with this. Probably.

In fact the focus of the book is on crimes against women and, despite the victims in the story being female, this is done in an effective way. The Ripper idea fades towards the second half of the book as we gain more of an idea of the big picture and you realise what a sensitive job S J Bolton has done overall.

And finally, we get the characters, in particularly the complex Lacey. Clearly a woman with many secrets, these are drip-fed through the story, and you are constantly re-evaluating what her connection to the killings is. I’ll say no more than that, otherwise I might end up spoiling something, but she is a fascinating lead, narrating the majority of the tale in a way that still leaves a number of questions open as we progress, although not in an artificial way.

Yes, on the surface, this is a thriller, not a classic mystery, and, if I had to criticise, the title has virtually nothing to do with the book (surely “My Favourite Things” would have been better, given… oh, I won’t spoil that creepy bit). But it’s a great page-turner with some genuine surprises and comes highly recommended.

Oh, and my stupidity – when requesting the book from Netgalley, I got the author confused with S J Watson. Very glad I did though.

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About Puzzle Doctor

I'm a mathematician by nature and as such have always been drawn to the logical side of things. Hence my two main hobbies being classic mysteries and logical puzzling. Oh, and cats. No logic there, I'm afraid.
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14 Responses to Now You See Me by S J Bolton aka Sharon Bolton

  1. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the review. I do fancy reading this sometime.

  2. Sarah says:

    Sorry, pressed ‘post’ too quickly. Although I am a little sick of Ripper inspired books. But it sounds like it is worth the read.

    • As I said, I was inspired to read this based on being confused about who the author was – the notion that someone who wrote the allegedly groundbreaking Before I Go To Sleep was then writing a Ripper book intrigued me greatly. But I’m very glad that I made such an elementary mistake because I probably would never have read this otherwise, and, as a thriller, it’s really good, and the Ripper stuff is done well – and plotwise, there is a reasonable reason for it (apart obviously to sell more books!).

  3. Bev Hankins says:

    It is nice when going outside your usual reading works out. I don’t do it a lot either, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised enough times that I keep doing it–sporadically. The most extreme occasion being Cabinet of Curiosities by Preston & Child–a definite thriller (not my thing), but with a historical hook that got me to try it anyway. A very good thing. Now…this one. Serial killers are generally not my thing either–but I do like a Jack the Ripper inspired story–provided that it’s not too gory. Sounds like this one might work. And you tend to steer me straight on these things….On the TBR list it goes then. :-)

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  5. Chizy says:

    I read this book in the beginning of last year. When I read the blurb, I thought “This is it!”, because I love gory mystery thriller, particularly inspired by Jack the Ripper. Yes, sometimes it is a bit gory, which I didn’t mind at all, but as Puzzle Doctor said it is not the only thing. The twisted ending struck me. Since then, I am a big fan of S J Bolton and read all her books including her ebook. All her books are great to read. As I am a librarian, i can recommend this book if you really don’t want to put down a book. Yes I can guarantee that.

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