Hysteria is book two in the Alexander Gregory series and every bit as exciting and engrossing as book one. The beauty of this character is that being a psychologist he is not tied down to any one place, allowing LJ Ross to spread her wings and take Gregory to far off countries with limitless opportunity for intrigue. This time we see him on the streets of Paris as we walk on the darker side of the fashion industry. Read on to see what Mandie and I thought and to find out more about the book.
About the Book
In a beautiful world, murder is always ugly…
Recently returned from his last case in Ireland, elite forensic psychologist and criminal profiler Dr Alexander Gregory receives a call from the French police that he can’t ignore. It’s Paris fashion week and some of the world’s most beautiful women are turning up dead, their faces slashed in a series of frenzied attacks while the world’s press looks on.
Amidst the carnage, one victim has survived but she’s too traumatised to talk. Without her help, the police are powerless to stop the killer before he strikes again – can Gregory unlock the secrets of her mind, before it’s too late?
Murder and mystery are peppered with dark humour in this fast-paced thriller set amidst the spectacular Parisian landscape.
I have to say, I’m loving this new series and it’s protagonist, Dr Alexander Gregory. After the big revelations about his past in book one, you’d think there was little left to learn about him as a person, and yet LJ Ross still manages to drip feed new tidbits into the story all along the way, and the more I know, the more I warm to him and understand what drives who, and how, he is.
This time around the action moves from Ireland to France, with Gregory and his mentor, Bill, speaking at a conference in Paris. At the end of gregory’s lecture, they are summoned by the Brigade Criminelle, the French equivalent of a Major Investigation Team, to attend the main Police Headquarters where they are asked to consult on the case of a vicious attack. The victim, a Paris fashion week model called Camille, has not spoken since the attack. With the police struggling to understand a motive, or to obtain any information about the victim, and turn to Gregory for his help in breaking through the wall of silence.
What I love about this series is that it takes us beyond the normal everyday process of a police investigation and allows us more of a glimpse into the minds of both the victim and the perpetrator. With Gregory being a clinical psychologist, his focus is every bit as much about the ongoing impacts of the event as it is simply finding out who is responsible. The way in which the human psyche is opened up to readers in a clear and accessible way, means that rather than being pushed out of the story by a lot of psycho-babble, you actually find yourself empathising with the victim even more than you may imagine, even though the victim in this case is a very unique and yet complicated soul.
The characterisation in the story is, as usual, spot on, with a wide variety of different personalities being brought to life before your eyes. As well as the largely controlled and stoic Gregory, you also see the darker side of his existence, and by that I mean the nightmares that plague him. He is a very troubled soul – understandably so – and it takes a lot to penetrate that hard protective shell he has built up. Someone in this story makes a good go of it, but you’ll need to read the book to see if they succeed.
Beyond Gregory’s inner turmoil, we meet a number of troubled souls, all caught up in the fashion world. Each character we meet has their own demons to battle, their own secrets that they are reluctant to share, each one of them drip fed to readers building tension and expectation perfectly. There is a thread which feeds through the story that kept me completely intrigued, wondering how it tied in with what was happening. Needless to say it did, with the author using her skill to pull all loose ends together in a very satisfying way.
How much the story reflects what really happens behind the scenes in the fashion world I don’t want to guess. Certainly the storyline reflects a number of revelations that have come out about the entertainment industry as a whole in recent years – the whole ‘Me Too’ movement being reflected in the women’s rights protests which take place in the story. It made the story very plausible, gave the reader a number of potential suspects to mull over, but left me with a conclusion which was still a complete surprise.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes in book three, and hoping that this series will continue on as Gregory is a character who has a lot to give. Don’t get me wrong – I love Ryan and co and want to keep seeing them too, but Gregory is slowing worming his way into my heart and it is a series that has a lot to offer.
I am a big fan of the books by LJ Ross so am absolutely loving this new series featuring Dr Alex Gregory. With his occupation as a forensic psychologist and criminal profiler it means that his scope for interaction with new people and places is wide open. Hysteria sees him in Paris during fashion week. Whilst the first victim is not killed, she is very traumatised, and it is up to Alex to see if he can unlock her memories of the attack. When there is another victim who this time is not so lucky, the pressure is on for Alex to get to the memories locked away.
What I love about this series is that although there is a police element to it, for once it is not the main focus. We get to see the victims and the perpetrators in a different light and delve into what makes them tick. This for me is a big plus as it’s not really a side we get to see in most crime novels. Understanding what makes the killer do what they do in more detail is refreshing. In this instalment you also get to see a little bit more of what drives Alex to do what he does. He is still suffering from his demons that we saw in Impostor but there is also some glimmer of hope for him as he gets close to someone that he originally meets by chance but is also found to be caught up in the case. As they form some sort of understanding you can’t help but hope that this will develop into something but realistically you know it is unlikely, as much to do with location as the case itself.
I really was not expecting the ending. I thought I knew what had happened and why as that is where the story was leading you to but nope, I was completely wrong. The truth of what happened and why was both simple and complex at the same time. What I will say is that now I can’t wait for Bedlam when it comes out and I have two great series to follow by this author.
About the Author
LJ Ross is an international bestselling author, best known for creating atmospheric mystery and thriller novels, including the DCI Ryan series of Northumbrian murder mysteries which have sold over four million copies worldwide.
Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon UK and Australian charts. Since then, she has released a further sixteen novels, all of which have been top three global bestsellers and fourteen of which have been UK #1 bestsellers. Louise has garnered an army of loyal readers through her storytelling and, thanks to them, several of her books reached the coveted #1 spot whilst only available to pre-order ahead of release. Her eleventh novel, The Infirmary, is a prequel story and is also available as a major Audible Originals audio-drama starring Tom Bateman, Kevin Whately, Bertie Carvel, Hermione Norris and Alun Armstrong.
Louise was born in Northumberland, England. She studied undergraduate and postgraduate Law at King’s College, University of London and then abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a lawyer for a number of years until taking the decision to change career and pursue her dream to write. Now, she writes full-time and lives with her husband and son in Northumberland, where she enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.
Louise is a keen philanthropist, and is pleased to have supported numerous non-profit programmes in addition to founding several of her own, including the Lindisfarne Reading Challenge and the Lindisfarne Prize for Debut Crime Fiction.