by Sharon Bolton (S. J. Bolton)
This mystery is like a Hungarian seven-layer cake: first, there are the chapters of Detective Constable (DC) Lacey Flint going about her job as a junior police officer who stumbles upon a horrific murder; then, there are the inter-chapter stories about two vulnerable sisters terrorized by abusive people and failed by the social welfare and criminal justice systems; and lastly, there are flashbacks to the Jack the Ripper killings of 1888.
Lacey is returning to her car after trying unsuccessfully to persuade a teenager to testify against the boys who gang-raped her. When Lacey looks up from scrabbling for her keys in the bottom of her purse, she sees a woman leaning against her car, spewing blood. The woman turns and her eyes meet Lacey’s, and she reaches out to her. Her throat and abdomen have been slashed into a mass of scarlet. The knife is still buried in her body. Lacey fumbles for her radio and calls for assistance.
The detective inspector (DI) called to the scene is a highly touted, new arrival from Scotland, Dana Tulloch. Model-thin, half-Indian, mid-thirties and brilliant, she arrives in a silver sports car with the handsome fellow DI Mark Joesbury.
Lacey can’t shake two feelings: first, had she been more attentive, she might have captured the killer; and secondly, is she under suspicion as the perpetrator of the murder by Tulloch and Joesbury?
Lacey herself is multi-layered. The frumpy, business-like woman her colleagues know is far different than the woman who goes trawling for men at night in calculatedly, eye-catching clothing.
When a reporter, Emma Boston, approaches her at Lacey’s home with a note that Emma says was pushed through the door of her house, Lacey seems to have a link to the murderer that she can’t fathom. The note clearly refers back to the original Ripper cases.
Other murders follow on the anniversaries of Ripper’s murders. The locations all relate to the Victorian era — but also to a list of Lacey’s childhood favorite places. There appear to be no links between the victims. With each new piece of information uncoverd by the investigating team, Lacey realizes the hunt for the killer is coming closer and closer to secrets in her own life that she shut the door on years ago.
This is a complex story, with an unpredictable outcome. Bolton unfolds what could easily have been an unbelievable tale skillfully and with great pacing. If it has any flaw, Now You See Me has a backstory so engrossing that you would love to see Lacey deal with it psychologically.
Alas, psychological growth is a mystery beyond the reach of this series. DC Lacey Flint remains an interesting character and the books are captivating reads.
Currently there are five books in the DC Lacey Flint series besides Now You See Me:
- If Snow Hadn’t Fallen: The events of this novella happen a few weeks after the events of Now You See Me. Don’t expect any acknowledgement of the traumatic experiences she had in Now You See Me, or more about her blossoming relationship with Joesbury. This story takes place as if none of the past events had had any effect on Lacey. On her way home, Lacey answers a radio call to a park near where she lives. She witnesses the ruthless murder of a young Muslim man by a gang in masks.
- Dead Scared: Joesbury recruits Lacey to go undercover as a student to investigate a rash of suicides at Cambridge University. The students’ psychological histories, social networks and online activities are remarkably similar leading police to question whether they were influenced by someone preying on lonely, insecure students. Lacey finds herself a player in a deadly series of unfolding events.
- Lost: Lacey and her neighbor and friend, 10-year-old Barney Roberts, are all too aware of a killer staking young boys, draining their bodies of blood and leaving them on the banks of the Thames. Can Lacey, on leave from her job as a police detective, catch the killer before he finds Barney?
- A Dark and Twisted Tide: Lacey, after joining the marine policing unit, takes up living on a houseboat on the Thames. She has taken up swimming in the river, is starting to recover from the trauma of the prior months. She feels close to Joesbury, despite his involvement in a complex uncover case. Then she finds the shrouded body of a young woman in the water. Was it a random discovery — or was Lacey meant to find the body?
- Here be Dragons: In this short-story Joesbury goes undercover to stop a terrorist gang targeting London’s iconic landmarks and holding Lacey hostage.
About the Author: Sharon Bolton (who has also written as S. J. Bolton)
Sharon Bolton grew up in a cotton mill town in Lancashire. Before she became a writer, she was a performer at the Edinburg Fringe Festival and later worked in marketing and public relations.
Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk and her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark Award. In 2014, she won the Crime Writers Association “Dagger in the Library” for her body of work.
She lives near Oxford with her husband and son.
Bolton’s books that are not part of the Lacey Flint series include:
- Sacrifice: Obstetrician Tora Hamilton lives on the Shetland Islands 100 miles from the northeastern tip of Scotland. Although her husband grew up there, he hasn’t been back for 20 years. Digging in the peat on their new property, Tora finds a human body that initially looks ancient. Tora becomes obsessed with finding out what happened when she discovers the victim died much more recently than she realized, within days of bearing a child and after her heart had been cut out. You’ll find the backstory on DI Tulloch in this mystery.
- Awakening: Veterinary surgeon Clara Benning runs a wildlife hospital in a small English village. Disfigured by a childhood accident, she is nearly a recluse. Her expertise is sought when a local man dies of a supposed snakebite. The extraordinarily high concentrations of venom in his blood show the accident was a murder. Clara finds herself on the path of discovering secrets someone wants badly to remain hidden.
- Blood Harvest: The Fletchers’ new house is built between two churches in Heptonclough, a small village on the moors that should be a paradise for young family of five. But the mysterious accidental deaths of three toddlers over the past 10 years paired with an increasingly dangerous series of pranks make the Fletchers feel decidedly unwelcome.
- Little Black Lies: First one, then a second and then a third child go missing from a small Falkland Islands community. In this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, villagers must admit that there is a murderer in their midst. Three islands — Catrin, her best friend from childhood Rachel and her ex-lover Callum — are hiding terrible secrets.
- Daisy in Chains: Hamish Wolfe is in prison for life for abducting and killing three young women. Handsome, charismatic and very persuasive, his fan club believes he’s innocent. Hamish wants Maggie Rose as his lawyer. Enigmatic, reclusive and successful, Maggie only takes cases that she can win.