Review: James Carol – Watch Me

Watch+Me+final+front+coverJames Carol’s books remind me of the few novels I’ve read by Stephen King. They’re examples of how books can be both readable and well written. As crime fiction readers I think we’ve come to expect this and yet, so often, I put a book down after a couple of chapters unable to engage in either the prose or the narrative. Not so with this series.

Carol’s main protagonist is a former FBI profiler, Jefferson Winter, who travels the world identifying and tracking down serial killers.The first book in the series, Broken Dolls, had Jefferson in London, a neat twist on the FBI profiler genre. In Watch Me, he is in now in Louisiana trying to find a devious killer who filmed himself burning a local businessman to death. But Winter is forced to recognise that he is dealing with a complex personality who isn’t necessarily fitting a classic serial killer profile.

Like Broken Dolls, Watch Me is immensely readable. The storytelling is addictive and I raced through to the end. There are some interesting threads interweaved through the narrative. Jefferson chooses a rookie cop to be his assistant and there is a lot of banter around trying to guess his first name. Similarly, Hannah, the guest house owner where Jefferson pitches up, is often one step ahead of him when it comes to town secrets.

Those who have visited the States will be transported to small town Louisiana in the book. The minor details, such as describing the local dishes eaten in the town’s diner, bring the deep South to life. Watch Me is different to the type of book I usually read but perfect when you want to be drawn into a compelling narrative.

Thanks to Faber for my review copy.


James Carol – Broken Dolls

Broken-DollsJames Carol’s Broken Dolls was a departure for me as it’s been a while since a read a book featuring a criminal profiler. However, I was intrigued by the idea of a British author writing about an American profiler but setting the book in the heart of London. It turned out to be a gripping, and wincing, read.

Jefferson Winter is a former CIA investigator and also the son of one the US’s most famous serial killers. Winter’s compulsion to distance himself from his parent’s actions is fuelled by his father’s final words before his execution: ‘We’re the same’. In his latest investigation, Winter sets out to find who is abducting women, torturing them and then releasing them once they have been lobotomised. He quickly discovers the modus operandi of the kidnapper but struggles to identify the true culprit behind the crimes.

It’s good once in a while to read a book outside your comfort zone. I don’t usually read this style of book and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy a tense thriller. There are passages written from the point of view of the kidnapper’s latest victim. Because of the case’s high media profile, she is aware what might befall her which adds poignancy to the writing. There are some passages that make you wince. This is as much to do with the threat of violence rather than what is actually depicted. But it does make for an uncomfortable read which adds to the tension.

Carol has created, in Jefferson Winter, a compelling character who will work well in a series. I’ve already got the second book to read, Watch Me, which I’m looking forward to already.

Thanks to Faber for my review copy.