Knife Edge by Simon Mayo

Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on Kife Edge, the brand new thriller from Simon Mayo. I first heard the author speak about this book at Capital Crime last year and I admit to being more than a little intrigued to read it. My thanks to publisher Transworld for the early review copy. Here’s what the book is about:

Source: Advance Review Copy

About the Book

You never know where danger may come from…

6.45am. A sweltering London rush hour. And in the last 27 minutes, seven people have been murdered.

In a series of coordinated attacks, seven men and women across London have been targeted. For journalist Famie Madden, the horror unfolds as she arrives for the morning shift.

The victims have one thing in common: they make up the investigations team at the news agency where Famie works. The question everyone’s asking: what were they working on that could prompt such brutal devastation?

As Famie starts to receive mysterious messages, she must find out whether she is being warned of the next attack, or being told that she will be the next victim…

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My Thoughts

Well this book certainly packs a punch. I’ve got to be honest and say that I chose to read this book out of curiosity. I heard the author speak at Capital Crime last year and whilst it was largely about his previous book, when he mentioned the premise of this one it piqued my interest. And, yes, Simon Mayo was a large part of my musical youth, so there was that element of ‘what happens when a media personality turns to writing’ too. What I found when I started reading Knife Edge was a book that started hard and kept me intrigued right to the final, tense and fast paced showdown.

The story opens in dramatic style – the co-ordinated murder of a team of investigative journalists in separate attacks across the city. And act of terrorism or something else? And who will be next. That is the question left in the minds of not only the Met Police but the colleagues that are left behind, fearful for their lives and yet filled with the curiosity of why their team would be targeted in such a way. And they are killings so clean and yet so brutal that it is hard to fathom but clear that there is something behind this story. Something very, very dark. From here on in we follow one of the journalists, Famie, before she too becomes another statistic, working alongside her colleagues to get to the heart of the story.

Considering the subject matter, and given that it is such a fast and shocking opening scene, the pace is not at all what I was expecting. There is plenty of intrigue and the story kept me wanting to turn the page and read on to the next chapter, but it takes a while to get into the real crux of the story, the reason behind what happens, and the early part of the book gives over to the emotional impact of the attacks on those who remain. This is where we learn more about the team, and about the victims, and the tangled web of their lives which are far from straightforward, with some pretty surprising revelations about a few of them. In a way this was good as it allowed me time to become invested in the main character, Famie, who otherwise wasn’t necessarily the easiest of people to come to like. She was not the kind of character you automatically fell into step with, although it was easy to understand her ambition and that journalistic instinct that drove her to try and solve the puzzle, no matter the danger it out her in. Strong and yet still vulnerable, the more i read about her, the more I did grow to like her, and her gutsy side.

There is also another key narrator in this book, someone who is heavily caught up in the story behind the killings and someone I don’t want to say too much about. It was hard to understand their motives at first, the author playing it in quite a canny way so that you could see them trying to draw Famie in, but not fully understand why. What was motivating them. Taunting the enemy perhaps? Maybe something much deeper than that. If you want to know, you’ll have to read for yourself.

The story does pick up quite a bit in the second half, and as we slowly start to see the full picture, so the pace and the ever present sense of threat begins to shift up a gear too. There is that constant undercurrent of something, not quite unease maybe, but certainly of Famie being watched, targeted, as are the whole team. There is certainly a sense of madness within the antagonists something that clearly manifests itself in their actions. You do need to suspend disbelief a touch, I guess, especially towards the end as the final showdown begins as no matter what the circumstances, the actions of some of the characters take them a little way beyond procedure and certainly against any sane advice. It’s quite a heady set up, full of tension and edge, and it is definitely a deadly encounter. To be fair thought, if the police played it all by the book it wouldn’t have made for half as dramatic a finish.

I found the narrative flowed well and I was happy to be in the company of the characters, even if the police, at times, appeared frustratingly inept. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad advert for Coventry, but it was nice to see a thriller that isn’t 100% London centric. This was a book that drew me in and kept me intrigued right to the end, and I’m looking forward to reading more by the author in the future.

About the Author

Simon Mayo is one of Britain’s best-loved radio presenters. He is also the presenter of Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast. Mad Blood Stirring is his first adult novel.

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