Creep by Jennifer Hillier

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Creep by Jennifer Hillier

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: A slow burning but well layered novel that waits almost until the reader thinks little is happening before dropping the clutch and accelerating towards the finish.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: December 2011
Publisher: Sphere
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0751549010

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As a psychologist, I love psychological thrillers, even more so when the main character is a psychologist, as they often allow greater insight into the human mind. The works of Jonathan Kellerman always entertain me and I've come across newer authors in the field in The Semantics of Murder by Aifric Campbell and No Escape by N J Cooper. This, allied with Jennifer Hillier using the same title as my favourite Radiohead song, put me in an anticipatory mood for Creep

Dr. Sheila Tao is a psychology professor at Puget Sound State University in Seattle. She lives a double existence, having an affair with one of her students, but then getting engaged to a banker and former American footballer, Morris. Knowing that this double life cannot last, she dumps the student, Ethan Wolfe, but can't bring herself to confide in her fiancé that part of the reason she was seeing him is that she's also a sex addict.

Ethan isn't about to let Sheila go without a fight. He threatens to expose their affair by posting a video on the internet that could ruin both the wedding and her career. When this fails to win her back, he kidnaps Sheila and forces her to leave messages suggesting she has left town suddenly. Morris doesn't believe she would just run out on their wedding and sets about finding the truth.

I liked Creep in the same way and for similar reasons I enjoyed No Escape by N J Cooper. The story has a slow burn, introducing the layers of the characters piece by piece. We get to see the different sides of Sheila; teacher, lover, sex addict. Ethan appears as sulky dumped lover, devoted boyfriend and humanitarian, giving his time at a soup kitchen for the homeless. Morris also has a depth to him beyond his work and his failed football career, as a former alcoholic and absent father.

Every stage of the story adds another layer to the characters. Some overcome past discretions; others are consumed by them. Just when you think you know a character, the story adds more, like a game of pass the parcel in reverse. Even with the sheer depth involved, I felt as if some aspects were only skimmed over and the book could have explored them more deeply. These missing parts were usually the ones the characters kept secret from each other, meaning the reader never felt a step ahead of the characters themselves, as can often happen. This was expertly done and left me wanting to know more, but that only happened when the time was right.

If there is one minor criticism of the story, it was that the pacing felt a little off. It was a slow burn novel and this worked incredibly well at building up suspense. However, it did seem to smoulder for a little too long before bursting into life and the denouement felt slightly rushed by comparison. It was always a fascinating read, full of either intrigue or adrenaline rush, but the combination of the two parts felt as if they were completely separate stories that didn't quite work together.

If you have the patience to persevere and particularly for those readers who appreciate something with a little more depth, Creep is ultimately an excellent read, with some well written characters and more reveals than a magician's show. How well put together the book is becomes even more impressive when you realise this is Jennifer Hillier's debut novel and I'm already wondering what may happen next from this clearly talented writer.

For more psychological crime solving, read No Escape by N J Cooper

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Buy Creep by Jennifer Hillier at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Creep by Jennifer Hillier at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Creep by Jennifer Hillier at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Creep by Jennifer Hillier at


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