Today it is my great pleasure to be joining the blog tour for the latest novel from Chris McGeorge, Now You See Me. A big thank you to Orion Books for providing the advance copy for review and to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to join the tour. Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the book is all about.
About the Book
My name is Matthew McConnell. You’ve probably heard my story.
I took five of my friends on a boat through the longest canal tunnel in England.
It takes two hours and twenty-six minutes to travel through that tunnel.
Six of us entered that tunnel but I was the only one to come out.
It was pitch black in there – I don’t know what happened to them. But I’m the only suspect.
And if I don’t find out how they disappeared, I’ll be sentenced to murder.Available from Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Google Play | Apple Books
Well I do love a good thriller or mystery, and having read the blurb for this book I knew it was one that was going to get me all intrigued. I wasn’t wrong. And the best thing about this story is that it is set in a real place, somewhere that, should you be so inclined, you can go and visit and therefore understand just how the twisted mystery that unfurls in these pages came to be.
Robin Ferringham, our main protagonist in this story, is a writer. His book, dedicated to his wife Sam who had gone missing a while before this story begins, is doing moderately well, but is well known enough that when he receives a call from someone who says that his wife has asked him to pass on a message, he could easily dismiss it as a crank. But the man, Matthew, knowns something that no-one but his wife could have known, something Robin has never made public. Matthew wants his help, proving his innocence in the disappearance and suspected murder of his closest friends. Robin is a reluctant participant in investigation but perhaps helping Matthew will bring him closer to discovering what happened after his wife left home for a work trip but never came back.
This book, for me, had a perfect balance of mystery, atmosphere and intrigue, alongside characters that you could never quite fully trust. Of all of them, Robin is the only one with pure motive. Even the police in this story are on the shady side, the Chief being the father of two of the missing people. Everyone that Robin speaks to is holding something back, adamant that Matthew is the only person who could have been responsible for the disappearance of his friends, and each time Robin butts up against a new brick wall it just adds to the suspense.
I loved the setting for this book, the countries longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel, Standedge. Running parallel to road and rail tunnels, you do get that kind of sense of claustrophobia as you read, the feeling of people being swallowed up by the one end with the chance of never making it out the other side. It is prime for folklore and legend, for tales told by small children and dares that are only for the strongest of spirit amongst them. Even regular travellers are accompanied by vans so that if they suffer a panic attack during the 2.5 hour trip between the two ends of the tunnel. It’s one of those. I could really feel the walls of the tunnel closing in on the few forays inside that Robin managed to achieve during the story, the author doing a brilliant job of creating setting, if not necessarily selling it as a great tourist destination for those afraid of the dark. Creepy and atmospheric, it gave the story a real edge, as well as a kind of howdunnit angle as the alleged incident seemed almost impossible.
The characterisations in this book were great. From Robin, who was both scared but determined, his protective sister who would rather he stayed safe at home, through to the many locals who would also rather he returned nome and let sleeping dogs lie, the author really brought them all to life. You got that sense of the closed community, the grieving families, the friendships which have been torn apart. I particularly liked the character of Sally, the woman who runs ‘The Red Door’, a website dedicated to unmasking coverups and conspiracy which persuades Robin that it may pay to visit Matthew and hear what he has to say. She is no nonsense and quirky, a real computer nerd, but very likeable and a good counter to Robin’s nervous uncertainty.
It is only really later on in the book that you get to understand the nature of the friendship between the six who entered the tunnel that fateful night, but the way in which the story is fed to the reader is spot on, keeping me hooked and focused right to the end. The ending may surprise a little, but it does fit and with clues dotted throughout the story, all obvious with the benefit of hindsight, you may pick up on what is happening before the big reveal. It is still a very enjoyable story, one that I found myself completely caught up in.
A kind of locked room mystery, but a tunnel, atmospheric, full of lies, secrecy and threat, that hid the truth from everyone in plain sight. It reminded me of the Kiefer Sutherland film, The Vanishing. Edgy and laced with superstition and suspense, it is sure to keep mystery fans very happy from first page to last. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Chris lives in Durham and is a recent graduate of the Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller) MA at City University. He loves film and acting in an amateur theatre group and can be found on Twitter at @crmcgeorge.
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