by Sandra Murphy
This week we have a review of the thriller Follow me by Angela Clarke. We also have an interesting interview with Angela. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Follow Me, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Follow Me: A Freddie Venton and Nasreen Cudmore Mystery by Angela Clarke
Review by Sandra Murphy
Freddie Venton considers herself a journalist, but she’s working in a coffee shop, writing for free. When she runs into a childhood friend, now a police officer, she follows her to a crime scene. In a bold move, Freddie dons a crime scene investigator’s white suit and butts in to see a grisly murder.
Her friend, Nasreen, is too stunned to out Freddie at the time, and it would be more awkward to do after. Freddie manages to insert herself into the investigation before being caught. It seems the murder is tied to Twitter of all things, and Freddie is an expert Tweeter. The police—not at all. Freddie is hired to be their social media person to follow the killer via tweets. The whole thing goes viral to the amazement of the police and even Freddie. Following clues, deciphering puzzles, and putting herself into dangerous situations leaves Freddie vulnerable and Nasreen frustrated.
Freddie takes insane risks in her personal life as well as her so-called professional life. She has a hair-trigger temper, foul mouth, doesn’t think before she acts, and pretty much aggravates everyone she meets. One of the riskier things she does is to pick up a guy in a bar by using a cell phone app and spend the night with him, only knowing his first name as she boards the bus to leave. When she checks later, he doesn’t exist as far as the Internet is concerned. Could he have been the killer?
This is not a cozy mystery but more a thriller. It was first published in the UK in 2012, followed by Watch Me and Trust Me, published here in 2017. If you’re a fan of a grittier, bloodier tale, this will keep you wondering until the end.
Interview with Angela Clarke:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Angela: I’ve always told stories. I can’t help it. And I’m not sure when that segued into the actual written word, probably when I was at school. After that I went verbal again, while I got a job and paid the bills. But I kept landing newspaper columns by accident, after telling stories to random people in bars. I like to get a reaction, whether it’s laughter, shock, or sadness. And so the writing never really started as actual writing, it just blossomed out of what I was already doing.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?
Angela: My first novel is Follow Me. When a serial killer starts tweeting clues as to who their next victim will be, a millennial cop and a wannabe journalist are thrown together in a desperate race to find and stop the “hashtag murderer” before he strikes again. Or before he follows them.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?
Angela: My first published book was a humorous memoir of my time working in the fashion industry, called Confessions of a Fashionista: The Good, the Bad and the Botox. It featured stories about flying clients’ dogs in business class, bin-diving for missing $125,000 [worth of] jewelry, and a lot of shapewear. I also write plays and scripts, including comedies, family dramas, and horror. I like to mix things up, but mysteries and suspense stories hold a special place in my heart/imagination.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in Follow Me? Is this part of a series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your book.
Angela: Follow Me is set largely in contemporary London, at a time where today’s generation can’t get jobs, where they’re crippled by student debt, where they can’t afford to rent or buy in town, but they do have smartphones. So, everyone thinks they’re spoiled. More accurately, the book’s true location is online. The internet and social media, in particular, form the backdrop of the novel. Facebook has only just turned 10 years old, Twitter is even younger, and yet they have millions of users, and a vast impact. Social media is the fastest growing “new” community we have. And communities, with their spoken and unspoken rules, their tensions and their dramas, are the perfect backdrop for mysteries.
KRL: I understand that this is the US publication of this book, when was it first published in the UK?
Angela: Follow Me came out a couple of years ago in the UK, but I’ve been lucky and honored to have always had fabulous US-based fans campaigning for me to come stateside. And this launch is the perfect opportunity to introduce Freddie and Nas to more American readers.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Angela: I love to entertain people, and entertainment has to be the foundation for any novel you write. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t slip in a few things to make readers think. The idea for Follow Me arose after I was trolled online in response to a feminist newspaper article I wrote. People sent me graphic violent rape threats over Twitter, and I just couldn’t get my head round why someone would do that to a stranger? There are several reasons people may troll online, but the one that struck me as the almost accidentally vicious was that some people, through a combination of anonymity and proximity (or lack of), forget there is a real person on the other end of the internet. So, I took that concept to the extreme. What would you do if you saw a serial killer tweeting clues to their next victim? Would you tweet the answer? Would you retweet the killer? Would you set up a petition calling for their suspension? Would you follow them? And what if they followed back? If readers end up asking themselves questions about their and society’s use of social media after reading Follow Me, well, that’s just a bonus.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Angela: I write seven days a week. I resolve each New Year to take Sundays off, but it never really happens. But why would you stop when you get to do what you love?
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Angela: I tend to have around six key plot points I know need to happen between the start and the finish of a novel. But when I reach those moments in the narrative, my characters often go in unexpected directions. That’s because I plotted those six key points based on what I would do in that situation, and my characters are very different people to me.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Angela: At night! I’m a total night owl. I get going around 4 p.m., and hit peak flow around 1 a.m. When I’m on deadline I tend to work through the night. There’s a fallow period of peace late at night that is equaled only by the one I believe is also available: early morning. Though I’ve never seen the latter, so it might be a myth.
KRL: Yay another night owl lol. Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Angela: The first book I wrote was a women’s commercial fiction novel called All’s Fair in Love and Wardrobe. It took me two years, and landed me my agent. She read it and said she loved it and my writing, but that it wasn’t sellable in the current market and could I do something else? I said yes. (The answer to any question like that is always yes.) The next book I wrote was my memoir, Confessions of a Fashionista, which was published in 2012. That first book was a vital stepping stone to getting me to where I am now.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Angela: No. And I feel I should work on that. I need to be harshly but hilariously rejected so I can milk it for just this kind of situation. Readers who are masters of the wry put-down are welcome to apply for the job (though please not on my Amazon reviews; I’ll never get published again!)
KRL: Most interesting book signing story in a bookstore or other venue?
Angela: Not a book signing story as such, but I once persuaded Ian Rankin to put as many marshmallows in his mouth as possible and say his book title in the back of a van. (And then videoed it.) Does that count?
KRL: How fun! Future writing goals?
Angela: I’ve just been signed by a screenwriting agent, and I co-wrote a horror that placed in a number of LA Festivals and competitions, so writing something that makes it to screen is pretty high up the list!
KRL: Writing heroes?
Angela: Ernest Hemmingway, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L Sayers. Actually, that’s a cocktail party I’d love to be a fly on the wall for.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Angela: My preferred method of researching is finding a person who does the same job as a character and interviewing them. Then I get them drunk. That’s when you get the good stuff.
KRL: What do you read?
Angela: Everything! On average I read around three books a week. I aim to stay on top of what is selling in my genre, as well as more widely in the charts, but I also include a healthy dollop of classics. I’m so lucky that this is my job. Schoolgirl bookworm me would never have believed it.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Angela: I love Stranger Things and Mindhunter, but my failsafe favorite shows are soft-centered crime, or what we call Sunday night telly in the UK. So, Midsomer Murders, Murder, She Wrote, Castle, and Death in Paradise. JB Fletcher 4EVA.
KRL: I love Murder, She Wrote! Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Angela: Write every day! The first draft of anything is rubbish, but you need to get that draft down before you can make it better. And persevere. Beyond talent, craft, and practice, perseverance is the thing that makes all the difference.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Angela: You should totally buy my book; it will change your life! Okay, it might not change your life, but it will certainly keep you entertained. And if it’s a success, I have more excuses to visit my American family. Help a girl and her fam out.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Angela: I have a rare degenerative connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos III, which means I suffer from chronic pain, suffer frequent dislocations and injuries, and I occasionally have to use a walking stick (I have five in different colors, to coordinate with my outfits). It also means I can pull my foot over my head and suck my toes, and my knees bend the wrong way. But my physio-therapist is not keen on me doing those party tricks anymore.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Angela: Readers can grab a free eBook of short stories at www.AngelaClarke.co.uk/Free
Or find me on Twitter at @TheAngelaClarke
Facebook at www.facebook.com/WriterAngelaClarke
To enter to win a copy of Follow Me, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “follow,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 26, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways.
Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:
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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.
Thanks for the interesting interview. Enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading your book. Thanks for the chance to win!
faithdcreech at gmail dot com
I love thrillers! This one sounds like a great debut novel!
Sounds like a great thriller, a little gritty, but I’d love to hunker down and give it a try. Thanks! crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
I really like thrillers. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this one. It sounds quite interesting.
This is really up-to-date – using social
media to find the killer. Sounds like
a good book – have to get this one
if I don’t win it. thanks
I really liked the description of the book. Would love to read.
We have a winner!