Continuing on with my newfound mystery addiction I picked up the first of Bolton’s Lacey Flint series. Now You See Me starts off as a recreation of the Ripper murders. It’s dark and graphic. Then, this mystery evolves into something so much bigger, which can all be traced back to the rape of two young women eleven years ago. In the present, someone is murdering woman in the style of the Ripper murders all the while sending a message to DC Lacey Flint.
After the first victim dies in Lacey’s arms Lacey is brought onto the investigative team, mostly so that the investigators can keep an eye on her as the killer seems to have fixated on Lacey. The DI in charge, Dana Tulloch, wants to protect Lacey from the killer as well as use her knowledge of the original Ripper murders. DI Mark Joesbury, on the other hand, is much more suspicious of Lacey, taking the approach that Lacey herself might have something to do with the murders. Readers are quickly made aware that, yes, Lacey is involved – there is a reason that she’s been targeted by the killer, and it’s figuring out exactly what those reasons are that make this a compelling and suspenseful read.
Generally, I would have to admit that I tend to shy away from overly violent or graphic crime fiction. There is no question that Now You See Me was a violent and disturbing read. Had I not been invested in the character of Lacey and her mysterious past I doubt I would have been compelled to finish reading this one. Lacey Flint was a complicated character. She’s keeping a lot of secrets and figuring those secrets out is what made me keep reading. Why is her flat spartan? Why is she so adamant about disguising her appearance at work? By the end I don’t think readers really know who Lacey Flint is, but it’s that unknowable quality that makes Lacey an interesting and compelling character.
Another facet of Lacey that I find intriguing is that you can’t really label her “good” or “bad”. Lacey has a complicated past and her actions are, on occasion, morally questionable. She willfully withholds information (and no really seems to mind, which I find hard to believe) and charges into situations without really considering all the variable. Despite the fact that Lacey isn’t necessarily “likeable”, she’s too complicated for that, but I really liked this characterization and I think it made Lacey a much stronger character, one that a series can be based around. Lacey’s not “good” but she is interesting and I would argue that that is much more important. Considering what is revealed at the end of Now You See Me I will most definitely be back for book two; I need to know what happens to Lacey next.
Bolton is also a master are developing suspense in Now You See Me. So often I found myself thinking that I had figured something out only to question my way of thinking with new tidbits that Bolton later drops. I was completely invested in the mystery and with the high level of suspense I didn’t want to put the book down.
Now You See Me is an excellent introduction to a character and a great series opener. This is not a mystery series for the faint of heart; it’s dark and graphic and doesn’t shy away from giving readers the full details at the murder scene. That said, if you are untroubled by the graphic descriptions, readers of character-driven mysteries will be hooked on Lacey Flint.
I’m currently listening to Linda Castillo’s Sworn to Silence and a lot of the themes that are explored in Now You See Me are also present in Sworn to Silence. While this one is not a British mystery, it’s main character also has a past in which she killed someone – and got away with it – only to become the Chief of Police in her hometown. While Kate isn’t as morally ambiguous as Lacey appears, she is a very interesting character.
Jane Casey’s The Reckoning is another read that I think readers of Bolton will enjoy. There’s more emphasis on the police procedure in Casey’s series, but I think the mystery that is the focus of The Reckoning will appeal. Like Bolton, Casey does not shy away from the harsh realities of crime. The Reckoning is the second book in a series and while I think it can stand alone, I recommend starting with book one The Burning to fully appreciate it’s main character, Maeve Kerrigan.