Sunday, February 16, 2014

What She Saw by Mark Roberts

When a nine-year-old boy is left to die inside a burning car on a sink estate in Peckham, DCI David Rosen is drafted in to investigate. The young boy has been severely burned, and is now fighting for his life. As Rosen and his team begin to scour the crime scene for forensic evidence, they discover something chilling; a graffiti image of a sinister eye, drawn in exquisite detail above the site of the wreckage - and behind it, a series of mysterious markings, etched into the wall. Could the markings represent a secret code left by the killer - a code that will hold the key to the investigation?

I received this copy from the publishers for an open and honest review.

Star Rating

This story opens with the eye witness account of Stevie Jensen, a young boy who discovers, and pulls out, Thomas Glass from a burning car. The reader is also introduced to Macy Conner who is another witness of this terrifying attack that leaves poor Thomas Glass in a critical condition,

"Sodium streetlight picked out his charred face. He had no eyelids, just red raw whites, one blackened at the centre."

It quickly becomes clear that eleven-year-old Macy Conner is a very troubled, young girl who lives in squalor with a mother who wishes she had never been born. The title 'What She Saw' indicates that Macy's eye witness account of this fateful attack will influence the course of events for the rest of the novel. 

As the story progresses, another teenager is murdered in a brutal fire attack and it becomes evident that whoever is responsible for these attacks is leaving behind a mysterious code. DCI Rosen (the main officer working on the case) finds himself a target in a horrifying game of cat and mouse. As children continue to disappear and characters' secrets begin to unfurl, DCI Rosen finds himself growing ever closer to uncovering the monster behind the murders. 

Unfortunately, before starting this crime novel I read the blurb on the back of the book which was incredibly long and detailed. I have decided not to add the second paragraph of this blurb to my blog as it gave away the entire plot line! In one fateful sentence, Mark Roberts gave away the character behind all the murders and therefore any red herrings along the way were unnecessary. This was a real shame and therefore tarnished my enjoyment of the book. 

I also feel that this novel was let down in it's development of the characters. I didn't really feel any true connections with the victims and, therefore, lacked empathy and emotion. Although Mark Roberts managed to tie up loose ends and link the characters together at the end of the novel this was not done seamlessly and at times left me slightly confused. 

Mark Roberts is clearly an imaginative crime writer and without having read the blurb I am sure I would have enjoyed this novel. So... if you fancy giving it a go take my advice and don't turn it over!

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