Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Book Review: Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker

Grade: 3.5 stars

Novellus bonus!

Review copy provided by Allison & Busby
Goodreads appetizer: Forward this email to ten friends. Each of those friends must forward it to ten friends. Maybe one of those friends of friends of friends will be one of my friends. If this email ends up in my inbox within a week, I won't slit the bitch's throat. Can you afford not to send this onto ten friends? Vacation Killer Leo Sharpe's life is shattered when his wife Laura suddenly disappears.

His desperate need to find her turns to obsession when he becomes convinced she's the latest victim of The Vacation Killer who has claimed eleven lives already - is Laura going to be the twelfth? The MO is the same every time - a woman disappears and within hours inboxes around the world receive a threatening email. A few days later, grim evidence of the victim's death is delivered to the police.

But in Laura's case, nothing is sent. Has the killer spared her life? Why? And for how long? For Leo, the clock is ticking - he needs to do everything in his power to stop the killer before it's too late.

My thoughts: What is really scary in Stop Me is its premise. Nowadays internet chain letters are such every day occurrences that one cannot help but shiver at the reality of this happening: the premise of Stop Me is completely believable and could happen any day to anyone.

The writing sets the scene as a script, you see the events play out, the characters live and breath on the scene. Due to the 3rd person narration the reader is a spectator of the story, looking on at what is happening.

The novel focuses on Leo and how he copes with the disappearance/kidnapping of his wife. Leo's struggles to wait while the police investigates to find his wife, his trying to go on with his life while not giving up hope that Laura is alive somewhere are described throughout the novel in a completely realistic and credible way. We can imagine any ordinary person would behave like this if someone close to them disappeared.

This is what I would like to highlight about Stop Me: the authenticity and realistic portrayal of events and human reactions and way of coping. Here you won't see the hero swing by and save the day, no, Leo is a completely ordinary guy, with no James Bond alter-ego. He is no superhero who takes matters into his own hands and solves the mystery. He is an everyday John Doe trusting the police and waiting home for them to bring back his wife or at least discover what has happened to her.

The end, the conclusion of the story was unexpected and shocking. Great way to finish and explain the mystery (I have to confess with the almost too realistic portrayal and approach I was afraid the story and the mystery would remain unsolved just as one can imagine it would be in real life). The end certainly elevated the story and was a worthy conclusion to the mystery.

The writing is detailed enough yet flowing and natural, Richard Jay Parker keeps the story  from becoming dull or repetitive and makes it interesting even through Leo's painful struggles.

My only problem was that albeit gorgeous, the cover completely misled me as to what to expect from this story. Based on this cover I was expecting a fast paced, action packed, scary serial-killer chasing thriller, but Stop Me is rather a suspenseful mystery with drama. I enjoyed Stop Me and would recommend you to read it but it took me time to surmount my expectations and what the cover led me to believe. I feel the cover doesn't do justice to the story and doesn't represent what Stop Me is really about.

Verdict: The premise sounds exciting. The delivery is well done. But the cover leads you to believe it will be something very different than it is and initial expectations aren't easy to overcome. Would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good mystery, but don't expect a superhero charging through and saving the day kind of action packed thriller, Stop Me is rather a suspenseful mystery novel.

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 7/10
Ending: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Cover: 4/10 Though the cover looks fantastic, I don't think it suits the story, and in my opinion does more harm than good...

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