I will occasionally review a book that I would like to bring to your attention. I will never be negative in my reviews. I know what it takes to produce a novel, the time and effort that are required. I will never review a book that I didn’t like, what’s the point? There may be certain things that I didn’t enjoy within a book, that I otherwise enjoyed, but as it is an opinion and therefore subjective there is again no point in highlighting it as it you may love those things. There may be small “spoilers” within my reviews but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.
Today, I’m having a look at Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker. This is Richard’s first novel and it has already garnered an impressive following on Amazon, in particular in sales for the Kindle.
The story is about a serial killer but Richard has approached it from an unusual angle. The hero is not a police detective, instead Leo Sharpe is the husband of one of the killer’s victims. The killer in question is called the Vacation Killer and picks targets while on holiday in various parts of the world. A chain letter is e-mailed which will save the person from death but only if it gets back to the killer within a week. When the killer fails to receive the mail, the cleaned jawbone of the murdered person is sent to the police.
Leo’s wife disappears and is believed to have been taken by the Vacation Killer but the police never receive any proof of her death. Leo is left to wonder what happened to her, has she been killed or is she still held captive? A man in Louisiana called Bookwalter claims to be the killer but as he has never left the States. Leo begins to correspond with Bookwalter when a picture of his wife appears on a website set up by the American.
At this point in the book the reader is in the same position as Leo, unsure whether Bookwalter is killer or crank. Bookwalter is making money off his website and it was then that I thought of the parallels of the phone hacking scandal in Britain. Readers of the News Of The World were partly to blame for what happened by continuing to buy the paper with all its salacious details of people’s private lives, driving the journalists to get more lurid stories. In the book, the visitors to Bookwalter’s macabre website are feeding both his distorted view of the world and generating advertising revenue for this vile individual and his family. At one point Richard writes, “How much of their lifestyle was skimmed off the back of shattered lives and events they had no connection to?” The statement could equally apply to a certain kind of journalist and how we react to what they produce.
The book is full of twists and turns, including a sub-plot about Mrs Sharpe’s employers who try to help when she disappears. The climax brings the book to a very satisfying and enjoyable conclusion. If you’re looking for something a bit different in the crime genre then this is the book for you. An ideal summer read that at least for me, provoked some interesting thoughts.