Prather’s Pick: ‘Never Look Back’ is a thrilling police mystery
If you enjoy reading mysteries, the kind that have you sitting on the edge of your chair as the tension builds, then this week’s novel for adults is for you.
“Never Look Back” is the first novel for Clare Donoghue, who lives in England. The book was published by Minotaur Books, 2014. The author spent 10 years working for a London law firm. The initial chapters of the novel, previously titled “Chasing Shadows,” long were listed for the CWA Debut Dagger Award.
As the novel opens, Debbie, an 18-year-old woman, has just stepped off the train at East Dulwich Station in South London. She is afoot, heading for home. She stops by a cash machine at Tesco Metro to get some cash for tomorrow. That’s when an unknown man comes up behind her. She feels something sharp in her ribs. He knows her name. He walks her toward the alleyway.
Detective Mike Lockyer, mostly known as “Lockyer,” gets a call from senior Detective Sgt. Jane Bennett at 4:10 a.m. (She and Lockyer are members of Lewisham’s murder squad; Lockyer is head of the squad.) Jane says there is an on-call team at East Dulwich Road, Tesco Metro. There’s a female victim, DOA. Furthermore, it appears that there’s a connection between this and two other cases involving young women.
The on-the-scene preliminary report from Dave Simpson, senior pathologist, is “wrists, rape, throat,” the same MO as the other girls. This body, however, has a puncture wound below the ribs and an entry site, perhaps for introducing drugs, on her neck. And there’s something else — something that Lockyer isn’t prepared for — the victim resembles his daughter Megan.
As the novel unfolds, the reader discovers that, after a divorce, the relationship with Lockyer and Megan somewhat is strained. Early on in the novel, the reader also learns that Lockyer has a brother, Bobby, who lives at a Cliffview sanitarium because he has autism, which causes him to exhibit severe “episodes.”
As the investigation of the most recent murder victim begins, the reader is introduced to Sarah Grainger, a London photographer, who is being stalked by a character whose identity is unknown to her. The calls started six months ago, and finally the caller started saying “Sarah” when he called. She reported the incidents to the Peckham Police Station and was told that the majority of nuisance calls turn out to be nothing. Their advice was to show him no encouragement and to keep a journal.
But things have just gotten worse. Now, Sarah notices a car parked outside her window. She sets up a video camera. She doesn’t recognize the car. Sarah doesn’t go out. She leaves the blinds closed and the lights off. She calls the police station again, but the officer who is supposed to call her back doesn’t. Sarah’s sister Toni is her only support until she tries to get help at the Lewisham Police Station, where she talks with Jane Bennett.
So the investigation into the deaths of the three young women is underway. There’s lots of questioning. There is even a possible suspect. The novel’s narrator lets the reader get into the mind of the killer, a little at a time. There’s Sarah’s unknown stalker. Then there’s another murder; she’s a 19-year-old named Hayley.
The plot is similar to those in screenplays and other novels, but the ending to this book is totally unexpected. It’s a tension-filled novel that mystery lovers undoubtedly will enjoy.
The book costs $24.99 in hardcover. It can be found at the Moffat County Library with the new books.