Published by Orion
Available in ebook, audio and paperback (29 October 2020)
Source: Copy for review via Netgalley
ABOUT THE BOOK
SHE WAS SENT DOWN…
Cara Lockhart has just commenced a life sentence in HMP North Fern – the newest maximum security women’s prison in the country. She was convicted of a crime she is adamant she didn’t commit.
SHE WAS SET UP…
One morning she wakes up to find her cellmate murdered – shot in the head with a gun that is missing. The door was locked all night, which makes Cara the only suspect.
BUT THAT WAS JUST THE BEGINNING.
Cara needs to clear her name, unravelling an impossible case, with an investigation governed by a prison timetable.
But as Cara starts to learn more about North Fern and the predicament she is in, she finds connections between the past and present that she never could have imagined.
Indeed it seems that her conviction and her current situation might be linked in very strange ways…
My thanks to Alainna of Orion for the tour invitation and for providing the Netgalley copy for review. I’ve only read one other book by Chris McGeorge Now You See Me – I do love a story with that ‘locked in’ vibe – and you can’t get much more locked in than a prison!
When Cara Lockhart arrives at HMP North Fen, Buckinghamshire, she has already acquired the nickname of ‘The Butcher’. It will be a while before we find out why. However it is clear that the other women prisoners despise her, which is rather ironic seeing as none of them are angels.
North Fen is a new prison and rather futuristic in design. Both prisoners and guards wear electronic cuffs to move through the prison’s areas and cells – but if a prisoner goes anywhere off limits they get an electric shock. There are no windows, but instead digital screens show pictures of outside views of blue sky and fluffy white clouds. It’s definitely designed with security – and secrecy in mind it would seem. No visitors are allowed.
Cara is placed in a cell with Stephanie Barnard. They get along ok and Cara thinks she has a friend. However when Stephanie is found dead in their cell, killed by a shot to the head, Cara is the obvious suspect. Their cell was locked, no one else can get into it without setting off alarms so Cara must have done it – even though the gun cannot be found.
If Cara thought that her nightmare began on being sentenced to life imprisonment for murders that she maintains she didn’t commit, her life is about to get a lot worse. There is something very wrong about New Fen – including the very sinister Governor but with no contact with the outside world, who can Cara turn to for help and how can she prove that she wasn’t a killer.
This was a complex and twisty tale that kept me wondering what on earth was going on. With the story told from Cara’s third person perspective, it was hard to always trust her version of events; there were times when I had no idea whether things were actually happening or were just in her imagination.
As the story moves on, the backstory is revealed so that we find out why Cara is imprisoned and all the reasons behind it. There were very few characters that I actually cared about, Cara being one of them, and I was keen for her to prove her innocence as I felt she had been unjustly accused on all counts, however being locked up on her own and not knowing who she could trust, I really couldn’t see how she would do it. Kudos to the author for devising a plotline as to how this difficulty could be managed.
There were dips in pace, with the middle being a bit slower but then towards the end the pace picks up as it heads towards a dramatic denouement. The plot may have seemed a bit crazy at times, and you may have to suspend belief at some of the strands but nevertheless it was very entertaining and intriguing with plenty to keep me glued to my Kindle until the end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris McGeorge is a graduate of MA Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller) from City University London where he wrote debut thriller Guess Who as his thesis. He told stories from an early age, writing and drawing comics and then scripts and finally novels. He loves Golden Age crime and gets incredibly excited about anything a little out of the ordinary. In his spare time, he is an actor with Durham Dramatic Society.
He lives in Durham with his hamster, Agatha Christie.