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**BLOG TOUR** The Twisted Web by Rebecca Bradley

Today, I am pleased to be the final stop on the blog tour for the latest book by Rebecca Bradley, The Twisted Web.

When the body of a man is left in a very public place, the area staged to look like a police crime scene, D. I. Hannah Robbins and her team know that they are dealing with a particularly twisted individual. As images of the crime are shared by users of various social media platforms, Hannah and her team begin to feel the pressure. In a case with limited leads, however, can they stop the killer before he finds another victim?

In recent years, social media has provided authors with a new plot device, whether it be through the use of streaming websites for the killer to showcase their crime or through assuming a fake online identity to catch their prey. The Twisted Web takes the Internet and uses it in a different way entirely. We are probably all aware of the saying, ‘the camera never lies’, and Rebecca Bradley has used this to explain the motives behind the killings. Drew, a teacher, sees his life shattered when he saves a homeless man from being knocked down by a car. What seems like the act of a Good Samaritan takes on a completely different path, however, when the event is filmed and uploaded to the web. The problem is, however, that the clip only captures Drew pushing the man, and does not show the reason why he did it. After the video goes viral, Drew loses his family, home and job and he begins to develop a hatred for the way people use social media. I found I had much sympathy for Drew at this point, but this soon disappeared once his crime spree began.

One of the things I liked most about the book was, although the murders are quite macabre, the descriptions are not overly graphic. More emphasis was placed on how they were staged and the reason for them being posed as they were. This, I felt, helped to build a better picture of Drew and why he felt he was justified in doing what he was doing.

I found it difficult to create a bond with D. I. Hannah Robbins, but feel that this is because I had not read the previous books in the series. I did admire her support of a colleague whose job appears to be under threat, however, and saw this as a huge contrast to the bloody-mindedness of her boss, Baxter.

The Twisted Web is a topical police-procedural which definitely serves as a reminder to always check the authenticity of online sources before accepting them as fact.

With thanks to the author and also to Emma Welton from Damp Pebbles for organising the blog tour.

Troll by D. B. Thorne

Sophie has disappeared, the police coming to the conclusion that she has taken her own life after losing her home and job. Her father, Fortune, is not convinced, though, and after flying in from Dubai, his own investigations lead him to an online troll that was sending his daughter vile messages on her blog. Is her disappearance as a result of a recent sting she was part of or is there something even more sick and twisted at the root?

Recently, I have read several books where the internet has played a vital role in the plot – Trust Me and Last Breath to name two. What I particularly liked about Troll was that, initially, we were kept in the dark as to what had happened to Sophie, our only information coming from flashbacks telling us about the events leading up to her disappearance. The rest of the information we discover in ‘real time’ as Fortune follows the clues to discover her whereabouts. I felt a lot of sympathy for Fortune who was, to all intents and purposes, an absent father as Sophie was growing up and is now trying to make up for lost time by helping her in her hour of need. This was made even more poignant as we discover that Fortune is ill and time is running out.

I also liked Sophie who, through her flashbacks and blog, we find was a determined young woman who had been driven to intense paranoia due to events totally out of her control. Looking from the outside in, it is easy to see the mistakes she made when deciding who to trust, but as, by this point, she was being pushed to the brink of insanity, Sophie was in desperate need of a friendly face.

Troll is a twisted tale of ‘cat and mouse’ where there can only be one victor, and I found the ending satisfying if sad. A great read!

With thanks to Corvus and Readers First for the ARC.

Trust Me by Angela Clarke

51O73PAHCPL__SY346_While undertaking some online research for her work, Kate stumbles upon a live video which is seemingly showing a young woman being murdered. After calling the police, she discovers that the video has disappeared and that people are reluctant to take her seriously. How can she prove that this was not a figment of her imagination and that, somewhere, is a girl in need of help? Meanwhile, Sergeant Nasreen Cudmore and her friend Freddie Venton are working on a missing persons case – could the two incidents be connected?

Trust Me is the third of Angela Clarke’s Social Media Murders series, following on from Follow Me and Watch Me and, again, deals with the dark side of the internet. This time the spotlight is on Periscope and how people, anywhere, can watch video clips that are put online. It is, in many ways, a modern twist on the Agatha Christie classic, The 4.50 from Paddington, where instead of Elspeth McGillicuddy witnessing the strangling of a woman when passing on a train and nobody believing her, we have Kate witnessing the rape and murder of a young woman online and the video being removed before her story can be corroborated.

In Trust Me, we see a different side to Freddie’s character in that she is struggling to come to terms with feelings she has never felt before. This angst does not stop her impulsiveness, however, and she is soon infuriating her friend, Nas, who is more adept at playing by the rules. There are times, though, when we see Nas acting without thinking, showing that the friends’ personalities are beginning to rub off on each other.

One of the things I liked most about this book was that, although it is a police procedural, it is not a traditional whodunit. The naming of the culprit is secondary to the actual investigation and the police search for the girl in the video. It is still a fast-paced story, though, especially in the last fifth of the book when one of the characters is placed in mortal danger.

I’ve enjoyed reading all of the books in this series so far and I hope that Angela Clarke has some more in the pipeline!

With thanks to Net Galley and Avon Books UK for the ARC.

 

Watch Me by Angela Clarke

51g8rpiawvlWhen 15-year-old Chloe Strofton is found dead after sending a suicide note on social media, it is assumed that the teenager has, tragically, taken her own life. After a second teenager, Lottie Burgone, goes missing, and taunting messages are sent to the police via Snapchat, connections begin to be made. What makes this case personal is that the missing girl is the sister of one of the investigating officers. DS Nasreen Cudmore and her friend Freddie Venton are determined to find the missing girl and discover who is behind the horrific attack. When a name from a previous case emerges, the women know that this promises to be a disturbing, twisted game of ‘cat and mouse’.

Ever since reading the first of Angela Clarke’s ‘Social Media Murders’ (Follow Me), I had been eagerly awaiting its sequel. Of course, when you’ve enjoyed a book so much, there is always slight trepidation when reading its follow-up in case it’s a let down. I am incredibly pleased to say that Watch Me is just as good, if not better, than Follow Me!

From the very first page, the author has you hooked and leaves you in no doubt as to the direction of the book. Although we, initially, don’t know the identity of the person who is experiencing such an extreme form of bullying, sympathy is instantly felt for them and for what they are going through. Whereas the emaphasis was placed on Twitter in the previous book, here we see how Snapchat and message boards can be used for less-than-honest means and how the innocent can become embroiled in it. The subject matter is one that has been very high profile in recent years and the author has certainly done her research to show how easy it is to become affected.

It definitely helps to have read the previous book although not too many spoilers are given away. Initially, the focus is on Nasreen and her police role but we are soon reacquainted with Freddie who, as a result of events in Follow Me, is a shadow of her former self. You can’t keep a good woman down, though, and Freddie is soon back to her wise-cracking ways, becoming an indispensible member of the investigating team.

Again, I found myself being unable to put this book down; “I’ll just read one more chapter…” became my mantra! The pace is relentless as it hits you with one revelation after another. I did have my suspicions early on as to who the culprit was and, although, I had identified a ‘wrong-un’, the actual killer remained unknown until the end, which contained a clever twist.

My only concern is now the time I’m going to have to wait until the next book!

With thanks to Harper Collins UK and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

The sign of a good book is that you cannot put it down. The fact that I have been exhausted all day due to staying awake until the wee small hours to finish it tells you how good ‘Follow Me’ is!

Freddie Venton is growing weary of life. Working in a London coffee shop but with aspirations of becoming a serious journalist, her life changes completely when she spots a face from her past. Convinced that her former friend, Nasreen, is with a group of police officers about to take part in an operation, she manages to track them down to a crime scene where the body of a man has been discovered. Using subterfuge, Freddie manages to access the scene but is soon discovered.

After realising that there is a social media link to the killing, Freddie is drafted in as a consultant. When a twitter account is set up by the killer, Freddie has to convince the police to take the social media aspect of the case seriously – not an easy task when the majority of those investigating the case seem to be technophobes! As the death count rises and it becomes apparent that a serial killer is on the loose, will the police be able to apprehend the culprit before someone close to the investigation becomes the next victim?

Angela Clarke does a good job in keeping you hooked thoughout the book and, although I had suspicions about who the ‘Hashtag Murderer’ was, I was surprised when the killer was revealed. The sub-plot concerning Freddie and Nasreen’s past was also intriguing and managed to fit in nicely with the main plot.

‘Follow Me’ really does make you think about your own social media habits and how much information users are making available to strangers.

I am pleased to see that this is going to be part of a series. Highly recommended.

I received this book from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

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