Clarke’s debut thriller reunites two once-inseparable schoolmates just in time to tackle a nasty online serial killer and each other.
Freddie Venton needs that extra something, that unique angle that will make her unpaid posts for London’s The Family Paper stand out so she can earn enough to quit her job as an Espress-oh barista. So moments after spotting her old buddy Nasreen Cudmore, now a police sergeant, Freddie follows her to a crime scene, dons plastic overalls and enters the house on Blackbird Road to find bank manager Alun Harding dead, his throat cut as he sat at his computer busily masturbating. Her impromptu masquerade quickly detected, Freddie would face serious charges if Superintendent Gray, who’s in charge of the case, weren’t so impressed by her quick-witted ability to link the crime to a shadowy online presence calling himself @Apollyon that he offers her—well, blackmails her into—the job of social media adviser to the investigating team. Although Nas recoils from Freddie’s unwanted intervention, and her boss, DCI Edwin Moast, takes an instant dislike to Freddie, the team really needs her because they’ve inadvertently made @Apollyon’s Twitter feed so identifiable that his followers soon number in the tens of thousands. Freddie, feeling that “it wasn’t so much that she’d tasted death but that it had tasted her,” is so desperate to prevent the Hashtag Murderer from striking again that she follows every possible lead in the hope of identifying his next victim. Her instincts are on the money, but she’s still too late to prevent another murder, and then another. Where will it all end? Not with this first installment, that’s for sure.
Clarke makes it clear that this stylish, fast-paced case for her good-girl cop and her bad-girl reporter is only the beginning of a new series; fans who miss the tart noir cycle are bound to enjoy it.