Good afternoon readers, after finishing the ten day review challenge I’m adding another to the list with the kick off review of the blog tour for Karen Long and her book ‘The Vault.’ Recently I’ve become a little more twitter obsessed and was tweeting away when I got a lovely message from @crimebookclub who asked whether I would like to take part in the tour. I readily said yes and settled down to read. It’s always a great privilege for me to be included in a blog tour because they are so wonderful at creating a buzz around a book and one as good as this thriller needs to be read. This one is dark, gritty and gory and I couldn’t get enough of; let’s hope I do it justice.
VAULT: A large room or chamber used for storage of valuables, especially an underground one…
In the unrelenting heat of the Toronto summer, a fire at a land-fill site uncovers the remains of a local prostitute. But the post-mortem reveals disturbing details – the body has been preserved and is not who or what it seems. DI Eleanor Raven is back on duty six months after barely surviving being kidnapped and tortured by a depraved serial killer. Work is her sanctuary but she’s carrying deep scars – mental as well as physical. Where do you go when the place you feel safest is also the place where you are most at risk? As Eleanor battles her own demons, it looks as though a killer in the city is making a gruesome human collection. And Eleanor’s fight to save the last victim of the Collector becomes a battle to save herself.
When I started this review I tried to think of word to sum up the book as a whole, maybe shocking or terrifying, or perhaps taboo or intense. As I rifled through the words I couldn’t think of one that could sum up this book on the whole it is all of those words and so much more. The book follows Eleanor Raven who a number of months before was terrifyingly kidnapped and tortured by a serial killer; however after a number of months away from the force she takes her rightful place back on the job just in time for a new case. A body is found in a local tip, thought to be a mannequin by a local worker; it has been almost perfectly preserved but why and by who? As the team work through the case methodically a new victim is revealed and the case must be solved quickly to stop this inhumane killer. As the case continues new clues, evidence and suspects are thrown up but will it all be too much for Eleanor who is fighting her own personal daemons? You’ll have to find yourself a copy, snuggle down and read to find out!
A couple of years ago I read a book that stopped me sleeping for a number of days and this could definitely do the same. First things first the premise of the book is incredibly strong but awfully horrifying. Someone is ‘plasticising’ victims and it’s not pretty. The idea of this was enough to make me shudder and as the author took me on this tale of horror and taboo I found myself feeling both sickened and also desperate to continue. There are so many themes throughout that are woven in, sexual tension, taboo, and also a transgender victim which is managed very well there’s not much the book doesn’t include. In terms of characterisation Eleanor is a wonderful character both determined and steadfast and also harbouring strains from past experiences that are running incredibly close to the surface. She is an exceptionally intricate character and that allows the author to play with her so much more. Although the story mainly follows her, because she is the main protagonist the supporting characters are equally well thought out and described.
In terms of writing style it was perfect for me, just enough detail and gore without giving too much away. I was surprised at how much information has been gathered and woven into the book because it felt so real and authentic. The research into the process of this type of crime is both fascinating and stomach turning. I loved the way the novel dipped and bobbed between different alternative sub-plots. The obvious one would be Eleanor’s past experiences but the author takes it further than that experimenting with sexual frustration and release and also starvation and malnutrition of the main character. It is both heart wrenching and utterly compelling. This matched with other subplots such as the distance from her partner and his request to join another force and also parts of the story told from the POV of the killer made for a complex but utterly compelling read. The pace to get everything in is snappy and rapid but matched with the strong writing style you don’t feel like anything has been missed out.
I think the author really went to town on the details, there is some much to go through and keep up with you do feel a little overwhelmed at points; the skulls, the wooden animals, the additional suspects, witnesses and the continuous and relentless pace would make you think this would eventually get muddled but the author manages (somehow) to create an incredibly coherent novel that just keeps giving you more and more. Continually throughout I found myself so engrossed and then utterly confounded and disturbed. Overall this is an incredibly detailed and exciting book that will be perfect for all you thriller readers out there, a wonderful protagonist, a sickening plot and a brilliant read.
As part of this blog tour we have a little competition for you wonderful readers; Karen is offering one of you a personalised signed copy of The Vault valid today only! All you have to do is suggest a name for a character in Karen’s next book and email firstname.lastname@example.org The competition ends at midnight on the dot. I will pick my favourite and let you know by email tomorrow! Good Luck!
Karen Long was born and raised in the English midlands, educated at Bangor University and taught English and Drama for fifteen years. During her teaching years she studied biology and neurology with the Open University and this interest in medicine, forensics and forensic psychology is reflected in her writing. She is an enthusiastic traveller and has spent time in Toronto, which became the backdrop and inspiration for The Safe Word.
She is a keen amateur naturalist with a deep and abiding love for the crow family. She has dedicated time, love and several fingers in an effort to rehabilitate crows, magpies, rooks and ravens.
Karen is happy to correspond with readers and can be contacted through her website KarenLongWriter.com, where she posts regular blogs.
The Safe Word is Karen’s first novel and was an Amazon bestseller, soon to be joined by the second in the Eleanor Raven series, The Vault