Wednesday, 10 June 2020


4 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: Friend Recommendation

In a Nutshell: English photographer visits eerie New Zealand town.  Murder and mystery.

This book reminded me, at first, of films such as The Wicker Man and Straw Dogs, and also, slightly, of 1960s TV series The Prisoner.  Jack Coulson is a photographer who travels to the isolated, small town of Nesgrove in New Zealand, hoping to take the photograph that will go 'viral' and make his career.  He soon discovers that this is no normal town - especially when he finds out that, owing to a Facebook post about his trip, they're already expecting him...

Jack's personal demons are as much a part of the story as the mystery surrounding Nesgrove.  He is on medication for anxiety, had a traumatic childhood, and seeks validation through social media 'likes', on a neurotic level.  At first I thought he was going to be a bit of an irritating twerp, with his social media obsession and preoccupation with his emotional state, but threaded through the story are transcripts of his sessions with a counsellor, and I began to understand why he was so; also, I saw that he makes the perfect main character for this story.  Though the events in Nesgrove are terrifying, they also change his life in ways he could not have imagined.

I found this book a definite page-turner, with the grim atmosphere of Nesgrove and Jack's neuroses so starkly illustrated.  The writing flows well, the suspense builds at just the right pace and I read it quickly, eager to find out what would happen next; each event was unpredictable and at no time was I able to see which way the story was likely to go. 

The only part I was not keen on was the 'reveal' about the village: the reasons 'why', and Jack's final scene, which I actually read twice because I was not quite sure exactly what it was supposed to mean.  But that sort of opinion is purely subjective, and I'd still recommend this as a jolly good book.

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