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Follow Me, by Angela Clarke

The novels I usually read tend to be more historical than anything, so settling into Angela Clarke’s first novel Follow Me was something of a departure for me.  It’s bang up to date – all Twitter (which I use all the time) and Tinder (which, ahem, I don’t) and that sort of thing.  It’s a very modern crime novel, with a ‘Hashtag Murderer’ using social media to keep the police guessing.

Follow-Me-Cover

It’s also deeply grim.  But in a brilliantly-written way.  Yes, the descriptions of the bodies – it is a crime novel, after all – and the various goings-on had me cringing, but I seriously couldn’t put it down, even though I was (the total wuss that I am…) worrying about what I’d be reading about next.  But really, I couldn’t put it down.   I also couldn’t log back into Twitter without feeling just a teensy bit creeped out….

Freddie, the unlikely hero, is living on a grubby sofa in a rented flat, eking out a life as a (mostly unpaid) journalist and unhappy barista.  She’s all about hair sticking up and out where it shouldn’t, impromptu hook-ups, and serious hangovers.  Feisty, fragile, and fearless – except when she’s not.  Glued to her phone – Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Tinder, the lot.  She’s bright, too – well-educated and under-employed.  And she’s great.  Although I’m not sure I’d want to party with her.

angela clarke

Angela Clarke, looking quite jolly — and not at all like someone who writes about serial killers. (Photo: Tim Wheeler)

One thing I did genuinely love about this novel is the relationship between the two central characters, Freddie and Nasreen: both women, both differently tough, and in a relationship that it would be very tempting to bring to an easy and overly simplistic resolution – a temptation which Angela Clarke thankfully avoids.  You know the Bechdel Test, which rates movies for having named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man?  Well, Follow Me would totally pass that with flying colours.

It’s a gripping read.  Strong, evocative descriptions of place – you can actually smell the lobby of the police station – and people.  Engaging characters, even the ones you won’t like.  Loads of action.  Even a bit of (admittedly quite dark) humour.  Enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.  And the murderer?  Finding out who it was actually made me gasp.

Love a bit of crime?  (Reading about it, not doing it – obvs.)  Then give it a go.  It’s a great read – fast and furious – but be warned: you’ll not look at Twitter quite the same way again.

angelaclarke.co.uk

 

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