This debut crime thriller introduces us to Sophie Kent, a journalist returning to work after a brief time of compassionate leave following the death of her brother. As with all the best protagonists and heroines, Sophie is bright, determined, fiercely loyal and prepared to take any risks in order to uncover the truth. She is also damaged, vulnerable, dealing with grief, guilt and her own demons. It may be Corrie Jackson's first book but there is nothing novice at her ability to create an intriguingly complex character and spin a story where the back story of the protagonist is as compulsive and affecting as the serious crimes around which the main plot revolves.
Whilst out on the job interviewing witnesses of a brutal child murder, Sophie befriends a beautiful but traumatised Russian model. When the girl's mutilated body turns up in an upmarket hotel on the eve of London Fashion Week, Sophie knows she could have saved her. Eaten away by guilt, she throws herself headfirst into the edgy, fast-paced world of fashion with one goal in mind: to catch the killer. Only then can she piece her grief-stricken self back together. As she chips away at the industry's glittery surface, she uncovers a toxic underworld rife with drugs, secrets, prostitution and blackmail.
The investigation propels Sophie from the glamour of the catwalk to London's darkest corners, towards a sinister past and a twenty-year-old murder case that could hold the key. Battling her demons and her wealthy, dysfunctional family along the way, Sophie pushes her personal problems to one side as she goes head to head with a crazed killer; a killer who is only just getting started...
Jackson gives us a journalist who has fought to get to the top of her game in the tough world of the newspaper industry and we are rooting for her to regain her reputation once more. Sophie's grief is raw and real. She describes herself as staring "down the barrel of grief so raw it felt as though it had fused into my blood stream" and although her boss is suspicious of her decision to return to work, she is acutely aware of the "long stretch go sharp edged moments" from her time off and throws herself back into work with a determination which shows not only her dedication as a journalist but also her attempts to escape the chaos of her personal life - a balance which the reader fears will affect not only her work but her emotional fragility. Therefore from the outset, the premise of this book is already filled with tension- and that's without even considering the murders Sophie's paper are trying to report!
As a journalist, Sophie has a privileged position of being able to go places the detectives can not and I found this really captivating. It also creates more danger and more emotional entanglement with the victims as Sophie has interacted with them on a personal level. The murder of Russian model Natalia is a gripping opening as Sophie has formed a relationship with this woman and feels as if she could have prevented her death. This drives her further into the dark underworld of the fashion industry to search out the truth.
The novel is extremely fast paced. The story packs a punch. It is gritty, realistic and paints a grim picture of the not so glamorous world of fashion. There is no let up in the violence or sometimes very gruesome details of the murders. Jackson is a brave author who writes unflinchingly about death and police procedure. The detail in some of the postmortem scenes is slightly stomach churning but all in all adds to the foreboding atmosphere and suspense of the novel as it hurtles towards its climactic finale. And Jackson is relentless. The murders keep coming. The personal life of Sophie keeps threatening to distract her. Even in the last quarter of the book, there is no respite and nothing is fully resolved until I was literally watching my kindle race along at 96%, still waiting for the final conclusion to be revealed!
I'm sure we will be seeing more of Sophie Kent. I hope so anyway - and judging by the absolutely glowing reviews on Goodreads, so do many many more readers! Jackson is clearly talented and this is a great first book. I liked reading about a journalist and their relationship with the police as this was slightly different from the usual point for a crime novel. It was as compelling - perhaps even more so than that of a female detective and Jackson is clearly able to combine all the necessary ingredients required for a successful page turning thriller.
I bought this book after reading about it on Twitter. It is published by Twenty7 at Bonnier Zaffre and as a fan of their other debut titles, I was keen to read another. It did not disappoint.
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