Well hello there lovely people. How are we all? Fine? Excellent. Welcome to my blog and to my stop on the My Little Eye blog tour. My sincere thanks to Alex (@alexxlayt) and to Steph for inviting me to pop my blog tour cherry with this book – exciting. So, without further ado….
Author: Stephanie Marland
Publisher: Trapeze Books (Orion imprint)
Hey you! Yes, you, reading this post. No, not you, nosey bugger. Clear off back to your business. Yes, you….oh for pity’s sake….yessss, you, come here! Closer. I have a little secret to tell you and I don’t want the whole world to overhear me. I can trust you right? Coolio: here it is……Stephanie Marland is also….no, no I can’t tell you. I can feel the heat of this revelation from here. Oh, what’s that? A bag of Cadbury’s chocolate buttons? Well, that’s different. Ok, Stephanie Marland is actually…..drum roll…..Steph Broadribb, author of the most excellent Lori Anderson series, Deep Down Dead and Deep Blue Trouble. Ta daaaaaaaa! *glitter gun*
*spits out glitter* Wait….what? What do you mean you knew that? Oy, where are you running off to? Come back here with those chocolate buttons…..give….me….butt….ons….! Bastard. Ok, well, clearly they knew this little secret, but I’m guessing at least some of you didn’t, so I shall continue (sans chocolatey goodness).
But, suddenly the lights go off! A figure, unseen, grabs you from behind. A cloth smothers your face as you inhale the familiar scent of…blurb:
“Can a group of true crime addicts take on the police to catch a serial killer?
A young woman is found dead in her bedroom surrounded by rose petals – the latest victim of ‘The Lover’. Struggling under the weight of an internal investigation, DI Dominic Bell is no closer to discovering the identity of the killer and time is running out.
As the murders escalate, Clementine Starke joins an online true crime group determined to take justice in to their own hands – to catch the killer before the police. Hiding a dark secret, she takes greater risks to find new evidence and infiltrate the group.
As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case neither of them realise they’re being watched. The killer is closer to them than they think…” (I’ve deleted the last bit of this because I think it’s a bit too spoilery and it’s my blog, so, ner *pokes tongue out*)
My Little Eye is a very different beast to Steph’s other series, the aforementioned Lori Anderson books. Whereas those books are high octane, action thrillers set in the fancy schmancy US of A, reading and jacketed like blockbuster action movies (Michael Mann, take note #justsayin), MYE is a more evenly paced, London centric crime drama played out more like a typically dark and gritty, very unfancy and unschmancy British TV series. This is no bad thing though; definitely not a criticism of Steph’s other series, but you can see why she chose the pseudonym for this book. Oh, and there’s way more swearing in this book. Stephanie Marland – wash your keyboard out with soap and water. Shocking language, fucks sake.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t sure about this book at first. The story unfolds slowly (apart from the prologue. That was one tense mofo right there), told from two different perspectives: the first from our female protagonist’s first person viewpoint, the second from the third person view of DI Dominic Bell. I’m not sure why, it just didn’t quite grab me from the outset. I guess I was more used to the hit-the-ground-running approach of Steph’s Lori Anderson books, but once the story got going and PhD student Clementine Starke (for that is her name – I always like a character named after my favourite citrus fruit), joins the True Crime London online group of wannabe crime fighters, things start to pick up and it hooked me. Clementine is a complicated person, harbouring a dark secret and a troubled past, the events of which we flash back to periodically, enlightening us to her story. Is all how she remembers though? What is the secret of her past? And who are the True Crime London group, the self-styled crimefighters, hiding behind the veil of the internet, trying to best the police at their own game? Well, I strongly suggest that you read the book and find out. What am I? A public information service? Oh right, I am sorta. Well, moving swiftly on…
Speaking of the police, our second protagonist is the troubled (what is it with these troubled types?), DI Dominic Bell. DI Bell also harbours a dark past, but he is unsure about what actually happened on the fateful night of the bungled Operation Atlantis. Someone, the naughty, naughty person, leaked intel to the perp, local gang lord Markus Genk, resulting in the whole thing going tits up in a most serious way for our intrepid detective and his team. The resulting loss of memory, and subsequent ostracism and suspicion by his colleagues, makes life very hard for Bell as he tries to discover who the mole is and catch our murderer, the notorious Lover (doesn’t he, If indeed it is a he *cough* sound lovely with a name like that? But no. No, bad person).
I found both Starke and Bell to be extremely interesting characters. They are both determined, intelligent, driven, if flawed people; they make highly questionable decisions in their pursuit of justice for the Lover’s victims, but mostly for the right reasons. Both of them want to put a stop to his heinous crimes – he’s a murderer who before killing his female victims makes them up into the image of another, thus removing their identities, and then rapes them post-mortem. Yes, he is one seriously deviant killer. Eventually of course their separate investigations bring them together, but to what cost to the investigation and to themselves?
The idea that a group of individuals using online and social media platforms to outwit the police and solve a crime in realtime is a fascinating one. Steph manages to make this into a highly believable, and worryingly plausible, story. She has clearly researched this area thoroughly. It certainly makes you think whilst reading the book and I’m sure it will keep many a book group in discussion for weeks (ooh, there’ll be buns-a-flyin’, cream cakes smushed into faces, I’ll wager, as people argue over this one). I’m not sure I personally like the idea of what basically amounts to vigilante groups gadding about trying to outdo the police at their own game. The reasoning being that the police are seriously underfunded, and therefore ill-equipped, to enable them to carry out investigations promptly and with authority. Are the public safe enough in their hands? Are we losing confidence in the police? Can the public do their job better? What should go first; cream or jam on a scone? Well, who am I to say? (but, no! Also, jam first.)
I don’t think it’s any real spoiler to say that My Little Eye is clearly the start of a series of books featuring Starke and Bell. Interestingly, I found there are strong parallels to Thomas Enger’s sublime Henning Juul series, which I had just finished reading prior to starting this, in both tone and story beats. There are several threads left dangling at the end of this book that compel you to read the next in the series, as was the case in Enger’s series – I need to know what happens next and to these characters, and I can’t wait to see what Steph has up her sleeve (if indeed she wears sleeves when writing her books. Maybe they’re tucked into her shoulder strap, or under her writing chair cushion? Who knows?), for Clementine Starke and Dominic Bell in future books. A very strong start to an exciting and potentially great new series.
Although this is the end of the tour, do not despair! Check out all the other blogs who have hosted a stop to find out more about My Little Eye, wherein you will find Q&A’s with Stephanie herself as well as with both Clementine and Dominic Bell, and some extracts and reviews, such as wot I wrote. Marvellous 🙂