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Summary

A secret video tape. A painful truth. A quest for revenge.

Investigative journalist Susan "Stripe" McLachlan is constantly hounded by eager documentarians for interview requests about the Night Scrawler murders. One of the victims of the mysterious serial killer was a member of her own family: her father. 

At the peak of her career, her services are sought by Isaac Payne, who commissions her to write an article for his website. Usually, her projects delve into more uncomfortable, questionable topics, but there’s a deep, almost hauntingly familiar pull about her new client that intrigues her. 

As she learns more about Isaac, Stripe digs up fresh secrets about the murders, arousing her suspicions. After an awkward confrontation, she wakes up in Isaac’s bed — with a chain around her ankle.

Isaac shows her harrowing footage on an old VHS tape. The contents hits close to home…closer than Stripe ever imagined. Now, she has to wrestle with her own moral compass and unpick the truth from the web of lies that turn into a crescendo where memories created from misery and suffering cannot be silenced.

Will Isaac ever lay the past to rest? And how will Stripe cope with the revelations that challenge everything she has ever known?

©2021 Kateri Stanley (P)2021 Kateri Stanley

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Cool idea, very poor writing

I feel bad writing such a negative review, but I gave this book a chance in good faith and intrigued by the blurb. And to be sure, the high concept of this novel is a really cool idea and had a lot of promise. Unfortunately there are just too many issues with this book for me to be able to rate it highly.

The first and most obvious is the quality of the writing. It's readable, to be sure, but it's so riddled with errors, missused words, jarring and nonsensical imagery that it's impossible to ignore. The author doesn't seem to understand that "Cameron smiled embarassingly" doesn't mean that she has an embarassed smile, it means that her smile is embarassing to someone. Phrases like "He returned back with her coffee", and "he couldn't remember the last time he needed the urge to smile", or his "anger quelling inside", or "he lived on an existence of meat, vegetables and water". There are a lot of idioms used incorrectly, such as "swim under the radar" or "crook and cranny".

It's hard to say much about the characters because at almost no point do they sound like real people. Some utterances and transitions are confusing and unnatural, and I never felt like any of them had a consistent personality, especially Isaac who stood firmly at odds to his supposedly sinister background.

By the 2/3rds point I still hadn't seen any real sign of the sort of story promised by the blurb. A number of early consecutive chapters tell a pretty cookie-cutter story about high-school romance and bullying, then a number of chapters divert into one character's early life story as a kid suffering in an experimental covert program. Everything does eventually tie together, but I couldn't identify any overarching core story.

I also noticed some major technical issues, such as this actual line in chapter 10 (I read this in both Kindle and Audible at various times): "Billy helped out when he could. Edythe home-schooled Billy and looked after the home." It doesn't say much for the professional editing service offered by Dakrstroke publishing, in addition to all the other grammatical and stylistic issues they've apparently overlooked.

All in all, this feels like someone's earliest attempts at writing. It's just not polished. The author clearly had the aptitude and work-ethic to be a writer, but a lot of development needs to go into their craft before they are ready to publish.