Now You See Me, by S. J. Bolton
Review by guest writer Jane
Jane is a retired accountant and bookstore owner who enjoys reading and collecting Irish crime novels, talking about her favorites on several mystery discussion forums and writing book reviews. This summer, she returned to her girlhood passion for reading Gothic thrillers.
The City University of New York's Lilia Melani teaches a course called "The Gothic Experience." In her course introduction, she identifies Ann Radcliffe, the most popular and best-paid novelist of 18th-century England, as the first great Gothic novelist: "She added suspense, painted evocative landscapes and moods or atmosphere, portrayed increasingly complex, fascinatingly horrifying, evil villains, and focused on the heroine and her struggle with him." Her best works, Professor Melani continues, are A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797).
I wonder what Professor Melani would think of British mystery writer S. J. Bolton? Based on her first three novels, Sacrifice, Awakening and Blood Harvest, she has been hailed as "the high priestess of rural gothic crime." The title is apt; these books are "lush with creepy British atmosphere," with Sacrifice set on one of the Shetland Islands and the other two in isolated villages. True to Gothic tradition, the narrators, or main characters, are women, and the books include a hint of romance and dark family secrets. But Bolton's women are strong, professional women; specifically, an obstetrician, a veterinarian and a psychiatrist. And one female in her books is often deformed or disabled.
The protagonist is Detective Constable Lacey Flint of the London Metropolitan Police's Sapphire unit, which specializes in crimes against women. Lacey has been on the force for four years. After interviewing a victim of gang rape in a seedy part of London, Lacey returns to her car to find a woman with a slashed throat and partial disembowelment. The date is August 31—the date when Polly Nichols, the first victim of Jack the Ripper, was found dead in Victorian London some 11 decades earlier. And before long, other apparent copycat cases follow.
I believe Professor Melani would approve of Bolton's modern Gothic thrillers!