If you are like me and your ‘to read’ pile has morphed into countless piles, you will understand that I meant to read this novel back in 2011 when it was first published. When my bookclub “Whodunit” chose it as October’s title I was delighted to put it at the top of the queue. The first in a series of British police procedural mysteries (my favorite kind) “Now you see me” by S. J. Bolton delivers in spades.
Set in London, England the series features rookie policewoman Lacey Flint. The novel begins with Lacey’s finding a dying woman standing near her car. The masterfully depicted opening scene of this novel will imprint on your memory. Because of her involvement in finding the woman, she is – over time – drawn into the investigation. Taken under the wing of Dana Tulloch, a female DCI, she is allowed privileges beyond her rank. Also peripheral to the investigation is the DCI’s friend Mark Joesbury who is an undercover police officer recovering from an arrest that turned violent. Gradually, after a second and then a third murder, Lacey and the murder team realize that the killer is a “Jack the Ripper” copycat. Lacey studied the ‘Ripper’ in university and has always had a fascination with him. As a result she becomes the resident expert on all things “Ripper. But wait, there’s more…. Lacey seems to be directly implicated in the investigation. Her past – which is a mystery to all in her present life – has connections to all of the killings. The “My favorite things” song from “The sound of music” was one of her childhood favorites and is heard playing at various crime scenes. The crime scenes themselves seem to be places she favored as a child. One of the crimes scenes even featured her favorite children’s fantasy book “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen“.
The killer is taunting her. Because the killer has made it personal, Lacey feels some responsibility for the gruesome murders. The detectives find her enigmatic and eccentric. She once lived rough on the streets of London. She has a bizarrely barren apartment and no friends or family to speak of. She has sex with strangers. DI Mark Joesbury finds Lacey particularly perturbing. He is suspicious of her involvement in the case and of her. Simultaneously, he is fighting a strong attraction to her. But can anyone really know Lacey? What secrets does she hide?
With gory scenes that are definitely not for the squeamish, “Now you see me” has gothic overtones. S.J. Bolton delivers a very well researched page-turner. Her knowledge of London’s underground areas and of the “Jack the Ripper” case is very evident. Lacey Flint is a multi-faceted character who the reader longs to know more. Since this is the first in a series of four books and one short story (so far), this is a pleasure I am looking forward to.
Lacey Flint series:
1. Now you see me (2011)
1.5 If snow hadn’t fallen (2012)
2. Dead scared (2012)
3. Like this, forever (2013) aka Lost
4. A dark and twisted tide (2014)
Sharon (formerly S.J.) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer. She is the author of the bestselling Lacey Flint series, as well as a number of stand-alone thrillers.
Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.
Follow Sharon Bolton on Twitter.