Forward Slash is the fourth novel by crime writing duo Mark Edwards and Louise Voss and to sum up in three words – WHAT A CORKER!
The book opens with a graphic prologue from the POV of ‘him’ an unnamed creep who takes great pleasure in killing women and keeping various body parts as souvenirs. Some of the detail in this section may make you wince, but it’s an opening that hooks you in from the start; and for the squeamish among you, keep reading – it’s not all so gruesome!
Using the successful narrative structure employed in Voss and Edwards’ first novel Killing Cupid, the story switches between the first person viewpoints of Amy and her sister Becky as Amy tries to work out why Becky would leave a bizarre note about going travelling, and vanish without a trace. Amy believes this to be out of character, but as Becky is a grown woman, the police are not interested. Plus, to back up her story, a photo pops up on Facebook of a beach, followed by a single tweet telling Amy to stop looking for her.
Amy employs the help of Gary, Becky’s (conveniently sexy…) neighbour to help try and piece together Becky’s recent movements to try and find out what happened to her; meanwhile, a young woman’s body has been discovered at the bottom of a dried-out cesspit…
The story explores the familiar idea of secrets – of no one really knowing who anyone is. Amy thinks she knows her sister well, but as we hear from Becky about what she got up to in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, it becomes obvious that things are not what they seem. Drawn by feisty, but bored teacher colleague Catherine, Becky has been led into a world of seedy internet liaisons that Amy had no idea about, and as Amy uncovers more and more about her sister’s life, her fear for her safety escalates.
The sections written from the killer’s POV are genuinely creepy and disturbing. There are clues to the killer’s identity, but there are also sufficient red herrings in there to throw you off the trail. As the book works to its conclusion, the feeling of anxiety ramps up as Amy races to find Becky – but in doing so, puts herself in danger… is it already too late to save her?
I literally couldn’t put this down, I read it until 3am, sure that I knew how it ended, with only a tenth of the book to go – but when I picked it up again the next night, it became obvious that it wasn’t quite as cut and dried as it seemed… I was pretty sure I knew what had happened, but I had absolutely no idea why; and although desperate to know what was going on, I didn’t want it to end.
Some stand out pieces of description from the killer will make you feel sick, but enthralled; and a rather steamy kitchen sex-scene will definitely stick in your mind!
If you’re new to Voss and Edwards, I’d highly recommend reading all of their books – but for me, this is their best yet.
Thanks to Mark & Louise and Harper Collins for the netgalley review copy.