Published by Viking/Penguin Books
ebook and paperback : 14 December 2017
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Welcome to the publisher blog tour for Close to Home and congratulations to Cara Hunter on being chosen as one of the Richard and Judy Spring 2018 Book Club Reads. For my turn today, I have a guest post from Cara together with my review.
#FindDaisy: Social media in Close to Home
by Cara Hunter
Right from the very start, I knew social media would be a big part of this book. These days any incident like this – particularly one about the disappearance of a young child – will inevitably play itself out in the full glare of online observation, whether the people involved like it or not. It can be very useful, of course, and you regularly see tweets from police forces asking the public to report any sightings of missing people. But there’s a downside to this ‘always on’ surveillance too, and it’s a very dark one. As the Mason family in Close to Home are about to find out.
I did a lot of research online for the book, looking at how some real-life abduction stories have played out on Twitter. I thought I already knew how low human nature can sink on these sites, but I have to admit I was shocked. Shocked and just aghast at what people are prepared to say in public about individuals they have never met, and situations about which they know next to nothing. As my central detective, DI Adam Fawley, says in the third book in the series, which I’m currently working on, “Social media is a forcing ground for our darker selves. I sometimes think we’re turning into that race in The Forbidden Planet – a supposedly advanced civilisation who created a machine to turn their thoughts into reality, only to find they’d released the monster in their own minds.”
The problem, I think, is that society hasn’t yet caught up with social media. Unlike face-to-face conversations or written communications like letters or even email, we just don’t have any established ‘norms’ for how we behave online. Codes of behaviour which have evolved over centuries don’t seem to apply on Twitter or Facebook: people assume they can say whatever they like. It’s as if they don’t think it’s ‘real’ because it takes place virtually. But there are consequences in the real world, all the same. But there’s more to the social media aspect of the story than the trolls. Some of the Twitter feeds in the book are written by perfectly genuine people who are simply trying to understand what’s happening. There’s an old saying that a bystander can be a better judge of the game than those who are playing it, and there are times what that’s true here, too.
So social media is both the devil and the detail in the story of Close to Home. But it has one more important role as well. I used the social media voices in the book like the chorus in ancient Greek theatre: standing to one side and speaking straight to the audience, and passing judgement on the characters and events. But then – as the story reaches its climax – some of those detached observers cross the invisible boundary between the virtual and the actual and intervene directly in the story. And when that happens, the consequences are only too horribly real….
| About the Book |
SOMEONE TOOK DAISY MASON… SOMEONE YOU KNOW.
The RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB pick everyone is raving about, this pulse-pounding thriller about the search for a missing child is perfect for fans of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR.
HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?
Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.
DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.
That means someone is lying…
And that Daisy’s time is running out.
Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2018, CLOSE TO HOME is the new crime thriller series to get addicted to.
| My Review |
Close to Home is the first in a new series – yay, a series that I can follow from the beginning and not have to play catch up with – and I will certainly will be following this one!
Eight year old Daisy Mason has disappeared during an evening BBQ at the family home in Oxford. When DI Adam Fawley arrives during the night to take statements and to begin the investigation, my hackles were raised immediately – not with him but with the mother when she asks him to take his shoes off before stepping indoors because the carpets have been cleaned. Who the heck worries about their carpets when their child is missing!
The structure of this book was different to usual. There were no defined chapters which I found a bit disconcerting at first simply because for me that’s the natural end of a reading session, although there were asterisks to delineate the beginning of a new section. The narrative from Adam Fawley’s perspective is told in the first person, whilst everyone else is in the third. Each section ended with a cliffhanger or a question – all encouragement to keep reading and I really didn’t want to put the book down.
The story uses flashbacks to move between various times before the disappearance and to the investigation in the present. Interspersed with the story are social media posts and police interview transcripts, these all help to give an additional edge to the story, particularly as the intervention of social media isn’t particularly helpful with random strangers jumping in with their own theories and judgements. Everybody is aware of Twitter trolls and keyboard warriors and there is an abundance of them in this book. As the police follow up leads in an attempt to pin down the timeline it becomes clear that not everyone is being totally honest – almost to the point of obstruction.
The characterisation was good, especially for Adam Fawley. I liked Adam. He was a troubled man and not without his flaws but did his best to put his own personal problems to one side whilst leading the hunt for Daisy and the story wasn’t all about him. The Mason family themselves, particularly the parents, are shown to be dysfunctional and quite frankly awful, although I did have some sympathy for their young son Leo. The lack of emotion or empathy from the beginning made them very easy to dislike and for my own part I would have preferred them to have been a shade of grey rather than black and white. Daisy herself was not a perfect child, she could be cruel and manipulative. So many times I thought I had worked it out but my list of suspects kept changing until eventually I admitted defeat!
With plenty of red herrings and surprising turns, Close to Home was an intricately plotted, addictive and extremely enjoyable read. It does touch slightly on some darker subjects for example child pornography and abuse but this is not gratuitous. I liked the occasional humorous exchanges and banter between the police team which helped to lighten the tone and although there always so many missing children stories to choose from the bookshelves, this one was rather different.
My thanks to Poppy and the publisher for the ARC to review and for the invite to take part in the blog tour.
At the time of this post, Close to Home is available to download for 99p from Amazon UK.
| About the Author |
Cara Hunter is the pen-name of an established novelist starting a new life of crime in a series of Oxford-based books to be published by Viking/Penguin. Though this is not the Oxford of leafy quads and dreaming spires but an altogether edgier, unkinder place. The first novel, Close to Home, will be out in January 2018, with a second slated for later that year. “So many people who’ve read Close to Home compare it to Broadchurch, and in my book, that’s a compliment to kill for…” (from CRA Website)
I’m lucky enough to live in the city I write about. Oxford will be familiar to crime fans across the whole world because of the fabulous Morse novels and TV, but my version of the town is a long way from the beautiful ivy-clad colleges. A much edgier place where the crimes are darker and closer to home.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and viewer of crime – I’ve learned so much from the outstanding writing that we now see on crime TV like Line of Duty or Broadchurch, and I’ve tried to recreate the experience of watching series like that for my readers. I love true crime TV as well – my husband used to tease me about it but now just nods sagely and says ‘research’ !
What else about me? I have pet cats who do their best to distract me whenever I get close to a keyboard (if you have cats, you’ll know), I love travelling, spending time with friends, and I have never knowingly turned down a glass of champagne….