#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2021
My day sixteen #bookvent choice is a book which really did make a mark from the moment Mandie and I started listening to the audiobook earlier this summer. Believe me when I say that it starts in a very unusual manner. I loved the unique nature of the story, the first I have read by this particular author, and, from the almost shocking and jaw dropping foreword, through to the astonishing conclusion, each moment is pitch perfect. The multi-narrator cast for the audiobook works so well that I found myself completely engrossed in everything about it. It’s not often than you find a story where the author is right in the thick of the action but that is exactly what happened here. Echoing the very best of the true crime genre, my sixteenth pick is …
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
‘What happens to those girls who go missing? What happens to the Zoe Nolans of the world?’
In the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011, Zoe Nolan, a nineteen-year-old Manchester University student, walked out of a party taking place in the shared accommodation where she had been living for three months.
She was never seen again.
Seven years after her disappearance, struggling writer Evelyn Mitchell finds herself drawn into the mystery. Through interviews with Zoe’s closest friends and family, she begins piecing together what really happened in 2011. But where some versions of events overlap, aligning perfectly with one another, others stand in stark contrast, giving rise to troubling inconsistencies.
Shaken by revelations of Zoe’s secret life, and stalked by a figure from the shadows, Evelyn turns to crime writer Joseph Knox to help make sense of a case where everyone has something to hide.
Zoe Nolan may be missing presumed dead, but her story is only just beginning.
This is a very clever book. This is what original fiction should be. It was both unique and yet all to familiar and had I not known this was a work of fiction, I would have sworn that I was listening to a true crime podcast or something very, very similar. And because this is a work of ‘metafiction ‘ – a made up story mimicking the styling of a true crime book, you even have the author as narrator experience as part of the audiobook which adds something very special to the portrayal in it’s own unique way. It’s a book within a book – sort of. The story of a woman who set out to write about and investigate a missing persons case, but who becomes the centre of the story herself, in a way. The story is told through a series of interviews with family and friends of the missing woman, as well as being interspersed with scenes narrated by the author, Joseph Knox, which echo the kind of narrative and the supposition and speculation that are to be found in all true crime fiction. Scene setting, directing the attention of the reader to the key elements of all we are reading or hearing. It feels like a true story, every part of it screaming authenticity and it works brilliantly for narration.
I really liked the style of this book. It reminded me of so many true crime books that I have read, focusing on the life of the victim and trying to piece together her final days and suppose what might have happened. We hear from not only the friends and family, including her twin sister who is accused of jealousy and yet makes a compelling case to the contrary, but also the police involved in the investigation, and whilst this may be a ‘cold case’, it feels current and very real, Joseph Knox capturing the feeling of fact within a world of pure fiction. It’s a brilliant blend of true crime styling with class fictional mystery making. For me, the audiobook really made it live, and the multi-cast recording was absolutely spot on. This is a complex story but one which, as a work of fiction, and a blended style of narrative, is brilliant. And there is a twist in this tale, one that will may knock the wind out of your sails, but one which just seems to tragically fit. Highly recommended.
You can find my full review of the book right here.
Happy #bookvent reading all