Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker

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Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: A fascinating idea that fails to be fully realised. There's a lack of emotional impact that somehow turns what could have been a wonderful thriller into something quite dreary.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: August 2009
Publisher: Allison and Busby
ISBN: 978-0749007072

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Spam E-Mails can be incredibly annoying, but most of us will have had to deal with them. Fortunately, we can hit the delete button and forget about them as quickly as they came. I certainly prefer not to torture my friends by sending such rubbish on, no matter how bad my luck is supposed to become if I don't. But I wonder how many of us would react if a spam E-Mail actually was a matter of life and death, rather than just claiming to be?

This is how a murderer known as the Vacation Killer works, sending an E-Mail stating that if it is returned to him then the victim will be spared. So far, this has happened on eleven occasions and each time proof of the murder has been sent to the police soon after. But when Laura Sharpe goes missing and an E-Mail follows, there is no proof, but neither is Laura returned. Her husband, Leo, drifts through life unsure whether to mourn her death or hope for her return.

The murder in prison of the man who had admitted to being the Vacation Killer seemed to draw a line under things, except that for Leo it could never be over until Laura was returned safely to him. Desperate for any information, he opens a dialogue with a man who had claimed to be the Vacation Killer, but who had been swiftly derided as a mere attention seeker. Against the advice of Laura's sister and her boss that he'd only be torturing himself further, Leo pushes on, needing some kind of confirmation either way.

I loved the idea behind Stop Me, working on the basis that anything that could make spam E-Mails seem interesting had to be a good thing. For me, the idea is still an interesting one, but the execution of the idea was what let this book down. There's certainly nothing wrong with the plot itself, which expands wonderfully on the basic idea and pulls Leo all over the place.

The main failing I found was that Leo should have been on an emotional rollercoaster, frantically trying to find out what had happened to Laura and drawing on all his resources to get her back. But there was a distinct lack of emotion and I never felt anything throughout the story. Leo didn't seem like a person so much as a robot for a lot of the time, automatically following leads rather than actually being involved. This is the kind of story that should have had a huge emotional impact on the characters, if not on the reader, but this was never in evidence.

This was particularly disappointing as the rest of the book was very well written. The changing aspects of the story were fascinating and although the lack of emotion made the pace feel a little slower than it otherwise might have done, the pages still felt like they were turning quite quickly. It's a story that moves along nicely, but never really draws the reader in, as it's so difficult to become fully involved with any of the characters, not just Leo. Even the ending, which you would expect to be the most emotionally charged part of any story seemed to lack punch.

Perhaps I was expecting a little too much, as I really wanted to like Stop Me and felt badly let down by it in the end. Richard Jay Parker is clearly a writer of great imagination, but lacking a little in the execution. However, in my mind this is better than being a great writer with nothing to write about, so he's worth keeping an eye out for in future and Stop Me isn't a bad novel by any means, lacking only the all important emotional impact to make it great.

I would like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For another interesting combination of murder and the internet, have a look for Steve Mosby's Still Bleeding.

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Buy Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker at


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