Follow Me Angela Clarke
This is another one of those books that turned up as a suggestion based on what I have read before, and Thank God I listened.
Follow me is Angela Clarke’s first crime novel, although she is an established writer as a journalist with a published memoir and playwriting experience, and it shows.
Follow Me is one of the most original plots for a crime thriller I’ve read for a long time.
The main protagonist is Freddie Venton. Freddie is a young woman in her early twenties. A university graduate she works as a barista in a London coffee shop whilst trying to break into the world of journalism. She is not immediately the most likable character, she’s goby, smokes, doesn’t appear to be overly keen on personal hygiene, lives on a sofa in a shared flat, and has a tendency towards using casual sex as a copping mechanism for any stress she has.
Freddie has been writing an anonymous, unpaid column for an online newspaper but struggles to find a paid job. One of the pieces of advice she is given is find the big story, be in amongst it, have a perspective nobody else has.
That chance is presented to her when she is taking a timeout from her job at the coffee shop. Having just been given a rollicking by her manager for fighting off the amorous advances of a drunk she is brooding outside the shop, having a cigarette, when she sees an old friend she hasn’t seen since school.
Detective Sergeant Nasreen Cudmore is everything Freddie isn’t, tall, slim, confident-without being cocky, and apparently successful in her chosen career.
From the instant they meet it is obvious that the two women have history. As the story develops the reader discovers that the two were best friends at school but that something happened that drove them apart. This little sub-plot is good at establishing the relationship between the girls, but unlike some books doesn’t take up great swathes of the story or act as a distraction.
Freddie is a social media and app freak. She is into everything and when she meets Cudmore she manages to sign her onto a social media app that allows Freddie to follow Cudmore via her phone. Realising that Cudmore is in the Police and is about to go on some kind of early morning raid, or investigation Freddie uses the app to follow her. What happens next is for the reader to enjoy and not for me to spoil but Freddie ends up working for the Police as a Social Media advisor.
Because the Police have a murder on their hands and its been played out on Twitter. The murder has their own account, and the un-savvy police haven’t got the first clue when it comes to the protocols and habits of twitter users.
Freddie has already annoyed the investigating team, led by DCI Moast, and including DS Cudmore, when she is asked to consult on the case by Superintendent Gray. At first it appears to be a “tick-in-the-box” political correctness ploy by Grey but Freddie soon proves her worth and the team reluctantly accept her.
DCI Moast is one of Freddie’s biggest haters but that is because he suffers from Confirmation Bias during the investigation. The condition that a lot of investigators suffer from, Jump to a conclusion then make the evidence fit the theory.
After all Moast and his team are dedicated and experienced Police Officers. Freddie is just a scruffy little coffee shop girl with a big mouth what could she possibly know that they don’t.
When the murders start to stack up more of the team start to think Freddie is getting it right.
This book is one of the best I’ve read for a very long time. It’s told from the point of view of a civilian that is thrown into a Police Investigation.
Freddie encounters crime scenes at their worst. Angela Clarke gets into Freddie’s head brilliantly for this. It’s not glamorous and it can have lasting effects on people, Clarke describes it as if it has happened to her.
She also describes the feeling of an outsider trying to get her convictions across and the frustrations of being treated as an inconvenient sideshow thrust upon the investigation team by a Senior Officer. Whilst also struggling with the emotions of a lost friendship with Cudmore.
The end of the book is great. One of the best things about finding a new author is you are never sure how things will end. Are they a Happy-ever-after writer, or are they a Cop-for-this-shocker writer.
Do you know what? You’ll have to make your own mind up. Right up to the last line of the last page I was hooked.
Who would I recommend this book to?
If you like Marnie Riches you will love this book
If you like Marri Hannah, Angela Marsons or any other British Police Procedural writer you have to read this and see the story from a civilians point of view. You won’t be disappointed.
But most of all. If you love a good story, you’ll love this book.