Now You See

Written by Max Manning

Review written by Gwen Moffat

Gwen Moffat lives in Cumbria. Her novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. The crimes fit their environment, swelling that dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside cited by Sherlock Holmes. The style echoes this: rustic charm masking horror.

Now You See
RRP: £8.99
Released: April 19 2018

A serial killer is starting his hideous rampage; actually, as with others, it will become apparent that he started in childhood. Then he used various methods of disposal but as an adult he favours a hunting knife with a serrated blade. He delights in blood but most of all he glories in generating and observing the burgeoning terror in his prey even to the extent of filming before-and-after shots of the death, then putting them on-line.

There is no clue to his identity, only brief glimpses of his intentions, voiced in turgid and repetitive first person bombast alternating with the proceedings of the forces ranged against him. The latter are epitomised by four main characters. Unfortunately, as hard as the author tries to make them engaging, faced with such a colourful opponent those on the side of the angels appear two-dimensional.

Blake is the most rounded of them: an investigative journalist, a survivor of the Iraq war where he saw more than he could tolerate. Consequently he is now receiving therapy from a female psychologist who happens to be the profiler assisting the police in the current case. Blake was also the lover of the initial victim but, trouble heaped on trauma, she had left him shortly before her death, leaving him bereft and confused; finally, as a discarded and war-damaged lover, he becomes the first suspect in her murder.

DCI Fenton is in charge of the investigation; a widower with a small daughter,  he is stressed at home and  at  work and, with the calamity of a second murder, with the mounting frenzy of the media and the  apparent inadequacy of the police, a scapegoat has to be found and Fenton is suspended.  

An unlikely alliance is formed. Fenton gravitates to Blake, both with a mission, Fenton compelled to close the case, Blake to avenge his dead love as much to serve her sister who has hired him to find the killer. Through her expertise as a profiler the therapist is drawn in, completing a renegade team. “Secure” systems are hacked, premises burgled, blackmail and intimidation utilised all in the cause of ultimate justice.

An old fashioned air of chumminess now prevails which can’t be dispelled even by a third sensational murder. Alas, the women engage our sympathy as little as the relationship Fenton has with his daughter. Manning is no better at relationships than with dialogue.  The interest in this book, its sub-text, lies elsewhere.

There are three murders, carefully spaced. Three sets of photos (and one has to admit the originality of a severed head impaled on a stake at a busy roundabout). There are three appalling sets of posts on the internet. Viewers are enraptured, enthralled, drooling for more. The killer reaches his pinnacle of fame.

For all the blood that is spilled, for all the contrived terror of the victims, this is the true message of a fascinating and very nasty book: celebrity worship with a twist. One is reminded that snuff movies, like all pornography, wouldn’t exist without the demand.


Book Reviews
About Us
Contact Us

Privacy Policy | Contact Shots Editor