It’s the beginning of another month which means it’s time for me to look back at the books I’ve read over the last few weeks and give you all my thoughts on them.
I didn’t found the time to read as much as I would have liked in February, but I’ve still got a couple of great books here to talk about. Besides, it’s always about quality over quantity.
Watch Me (Angela Clarke)
The follow-up to Angela Clarke’s incredible debut crime novel, Follow Me, was released back in January and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I fell in love with the concept of Clarke’s first book after meeting her at the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival back in September, and I quickly found that her writing matched the high standard of her ideas.
Watch Me sees Sergeant Nasreen Cudmore reunited with her childhood friend Freddie Venton once again, this time with the case of a missing girl. Her disappearance quickly shows signs of a connection to the two character’s past and the events of the previous novel, resulting in plenty of twists and turns along the way.
Clarke’s new book is a very contemporary piece of work given it’s use of social media as a plot device, and that is a part of what I love about her writing. My bookcase is stacked full of so many crime novels, but none of them feel so in the present as Watch Me and its predecessor. It gives the genre a refreshing angle, especially when it also works to provide commentary on how people – particularly teenagers and young adults – are too reliant on social media. The usage of this leaves a message that stays long after you put the book down.
In terms of the story, Follow Me was slightly stronger, although it was by no means bad. There was perhaps too much time spent leaning on the first novel, particularly when nothing came from the visit to the Hashtag Murderer towards the climax. On a more positive note though, once Freddie was brought into the story and she joined the investigation, the book became hard to put down. There were always enough shocking moment and teases of mystery to sustain the plot right up to the ending moments.
I would definitely advise anyone that enjoys the crime/mystery genre to give Angela Clarke’s books a look. The combination of two women as the lead characters is refreshing, and it’s nice to see the development in them both from the start of Follow Me to now. It can be infuriated sometimes (most times) seeing how they’re treated by the men in the books, although it makes a very strong point about how women are unfairly treated in the professional world. It could admittedly do with being toned down just a tiny bit, though, to avoid getting in the way of the story. Sometimes it’s just too aggravating to want to read on.
I’m hopeful that there will be more books in the ‘Social Media Murder’ series that these two novels are a part of, especially given how the book ended. Although this one boasted many connections to Follow Me, I feel confident that a third edition to the series would now be able to stand strong on it’s own. I just hope that the culprit in that book is a little less disappointing than the one in Watch Me. The reveal this time around was too anti-climatic for me, but don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed this book.
I give Angela Clarke’s Watch Me a 7/10
The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (Jennifer Lynch)
With Twin Peaks set to return to our screens on May 21st, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out this book when I saw it in Waterstones. I fell in love with the programme after studying it for a media essay during GCSE English, and despite my reservations I quickly became hooked on it. It’s no surprise given how much I love a good mystery, after all Twin Peaks served up one of the biggest whodunnit storylines ever seen on TV.
As the title suggests, the book is a copy of Laura Palmer’s diary that the character wrote from the age of 12 up until she was murdered. In ways, it acts as a prequel as well as a spin-off, although I see it more as an accompaniment to the show that offers a great deal more depth to the story.
What I loved about this book – aside from the excitement it produced at the though of Twin Peaks returning soon – is the wonderful progression of character from beginning to end. It nicely reflected how the audience perceived Laura Palmer in the show, from the innocent angel that the townsfolk perceived her as when her body was found, to the deeply mysterious, disturbing character that the series gradually revealed with every new twist. The first entry, where Laura comes across as all rainbows and sunshine, nearly made me laugh out loud because of how much it contrasted to the character I was familiar with.
Any book, film or tv show like this where you’re already aware of the outcome can be hard to pull off, because it needs to be enticing enough for the reader/viewer to enjoy it despite knowing the ending. Although I was aware that the last entry in the journal would be followed by Laura’s death, the writing and progression of character was so strong that it didn’t matter to me. Seeing how elements slowly dripped into Laura’s personal story – like the first mention of Bob – was fascinating and still had me riveted. There was so much new information about her life that was shown in the diary that I felt as though I were watching the show all over again.
Admittedly, this book was a little more jarring to read than a novel because of it’s format, so it was harder to get into the flow of the narrative. As with most stuff that I’ve read recently though, the further I progressed in the book, the more I hated having to put it down. The second half of the diary I read in one sitting, although a part of that was my determination to just finish the book.
This is certainly a great filler for anyone who loved the original series to get them excited again before the new episodes start in May. I’ll be sitting here counting down the days now for the next two and a half months!
I give Jennifer Lynch’s The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer a 7/10