Avon | 2017 (12 January) | Review copy | Buy the book
Fifteen-year-old Chloe Strofton is found dead, pumped full of drugs, twenty-four hours after she sent a suicide note around friends and family using social media tool snapchat. Not surprisingly, Chloe’s death is regarded as suicide. But when a second teenage girl disappears and a similar note is sent around, the police have no choice but to sit up and listen. The girl is Lottie, the little sister of DCI Jack Burgone, chief of the unit specialising in cyber and e-crime, and there is an extra note, warning the police that they have 24 hours to save Lottie’s life. The clock begins to tick.
DS Nasreen Cudmore picked the wrong night to get drunk and the wrong morning to wake up beside her boss DCI Burgone but the indiscretion is the last thing on Burgone’s mind when he and the members of his team receive the snapchat messages from Lottie’s phone. Fresh from solving the Social Media Murders, the warning bells have gone off in Nas’s head – she suspects that she is the link between Chloe and Lottie but she’s afraid to admit the reason why. She needs Freddie Vinton, a social media expert still in recovery from the Social Media Murders, to help her find Lottie before the countdown stops. If this means that Nas has to follow her own path, away from her police colleagues, then so be it.
Watch Me is the second novel in Angela Clarke’s Social Media Murders series and is hot on the heels of the excellent debut Follow Me. I was so pleased to see Nas and Freddie again. These two have quite a history, one that you can understand Nas wanting to keep hidden from her colleagues, but the spark between them is part of what sets this series apart. There might be warts and flaws galore but there is a strong sense that Nas and Freddie both know that it is time for them to put all of this right, whatever the cost. And the cost has been great.
While Follow Me was about Twitter, Watch Me is about snapchat, something new to me that I will be avoiding at all costs. There is an added immediacy to the book and to the case because of the twenty-four hour deadline and the whole novel takes the form of that countdown with all of the action taking place over one day. The tension rises and rises. Angela Carter is so good at raising the pulse and keeping it pounding. The action is taut, well-structured and fast.
Follow Me was a very hard act to follow and I don’t think that Watch Me quite matches it. That would be a tall order indeed, especially considering how original and unusual Follow Me felt at the time. I did find Nas and Freddie a little irritating at times in Watch Me. They certainly felt very young and not far removed from the school playground. Nevertheless, the social media background to the novel remains a fascinating and topical one and is put to good use again here. The murder mystery is compelling and the pages fly through the fingers. I’m really interested to see where this series goes next.