Monday, October 28, 2013

The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn't have many friends. She spends her time alone in the woods near her house - her safe place, until she finds the body of a young woman. 
Susanna Mitchell is searching for her sister, Ronnie, who vanished after leaving a late-night bar. The more she discovers about Ronnie's life, the more she realises that her sister began to disappear long before she went missing. 

Star Rating

I received this book from Atlantic publishers for an open and honest review. 

Being an avid fan of crime thrillers, I had high expectations of this debut novel from Holly Goddard Jones. Although it didn't completely live up to my expectations, for a first novel, I must applaud this talented new author.

'The Next Time You See Me' tells the story of Emily Houchens, a sad, troubled young teen who is mercilessly bullied at school and is lacking in friends. Very early on in the novel, on a visit to the local woods, Emily stumbles upon a body. A dead body rotting away hidden and unnoticed.

"What she thought she'd seen she didn't quite believe; she focused her eyes to the left of it, squinting and then, still uncertain, she crouched down - and yes, there it was, pale and threaded with fine lines, dimpled in the center with dark soil: a human palm."

As Emily struggles to deal with the secret she has unearthed, the reader is introduced to a number of other characters including that of Wyatt - an old, lonely man who lives a very sad existence. The reader is also introduced to Suzanna Mitchell, a school teacher and mum of one, who is desperately searching for her missing sister Ronnie. 

Very early on, it becomes clear that all the characters in the story are linked in some way and Holly Goddard Jones intertwines their story lines with great skill and ease. Everyone in the story is linked to the murder in some form or other and, as the story progresses, plots become neatly woven together.

Where this novel is let down is in it's lack of mystery and twists. Quite early on I had figured out who had committed the murder of Ronnie Mitchell and this, unfortunately, spoiled my enjoyment of the book. Crime fiction fans love a red herring or two and I was disappointed to find the novel lacking in this area. As the novel moved on, I was hoping that maybe I was wrong and that Holly Goddard Jones was going to throw a shock ending my way but unfortunately this wish didn't come true.

However, for the story line and skilled writing alone this debut novel deserves praise and I will certainly be reading Holly's next installment. 

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