My Little Eye

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

This is the first book I have read from Stephanie Marland and really enjoyed it! 

I loved the social media aspect of the story and the concept of a group of true crime junkies convinced that they can solve a serial killer case before the local police. This obviously leads to a lot of risky decisions on their part as they all try to get the next scoop.

The relationship between Clementine (true crime crusader) and the lead detective on the case DI Dominic Bell was an interesting one and I look forward to how they continue to work together in future.
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This is the first in a new crime fiction series featuring DI Dominic Bell and Clementine Starke. I confess ... I read the second book first.  Good news, nothing in the second book contained any major spoilers, so I still enjoyed reading the first book.

Bell and Starke both have issues, are flawed.  Due to a leak about an undercover operation, Bell was injured ... leaving him with few memories of what happened.  His female partner was also injured.  Bell is absolutely sure that someone on his team is dirty.

Clementine thinks of herself as a murderer.  Her cop father was killed in a house fire shortly after she discovered that he was being charged with all sorts of crimes.  She remembers nothing else from that night and to this day she feels numb ... like she never fits in anywhere. She's studied how to copy people, mannerisms, conversations.

She has joined an online true crime group ... a bunch of people who are determined to take justice into their own hands and find a serial killer known as The Lover.  Several women have been killed ... and Bell is feeling the heat about finding him.

As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case neither of them realize they're being watched. The killer is closer to them than they think, and he has his next victim - Clementine - firmly in his sights.

The book is very well written with solidly defined characters.  The chapters alternate between the voices of Bell and Starke.  There are all kinds of twists and turns .... and everyone lies ... everyone has secrets.  The reader has an assortment of suspects to look at ... especially those of us who are armchair detectives.

Many thanks to the author / Orion Publishing Group - Trapeze  / Netgalley for the digital copy of this crime fiction.  Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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This is my first book by the author and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this book. Fantastic plot and likeable characters.I cant wait for the next in the series.
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This was a great thriller following the investigation into a serial killer in London - I thought it was really well-paced and kept me guessing throughout.
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I have just finished the first book in the Stark and Bell series and I loved it, I just couldn't put it down!

This book follows the case of 'The Lover Killings, told from the viewpoints of Clementine Stark, student and member of an online true crime community intent on solving the crime before the police; and Dominic Bell, the officer in charge of the investigation.

My Little Eye details the two separate investigations, the overlap, and just enough background into our two protagonists. I guess that we'll learn more about this as the series progresses.

If you're a fan of crime novels then, like me, you'll enjoy this book. It keeps twisting and turning. In fact, I changed my mind about the killer three times and still managed to get it wrong!

The story is well written, captivating and enticing. I can't wait for the next book in the series!
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Really enjoyed this new police procedural thriller. It added a different twist to the normal detective book  and I really liked the main characters who both had their flaws. Will definitely be looking out for the next book in the series and look forward to reading what’s next for these characters.
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Really enjoyed this book. Found it impossible to put down. Some very creepy parts which are enough to give anyone nightmares!
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I got really involved with the characters, wanting to know more about them, trying to guess what happens, joining the characters in looking through the case files n working out who done it. At one point I was convinced I knew where they should look for the killer, I was shouting at the characters to go back and look at that piece of evidence again.... And I was right! 

I actually want to give this book 4.5* as I just couldn't stop reading.  I now want to find more books by this author a highly recommended read.
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After a third woman is murdered by "The Lover," as the press calls him, a group of online true crime fans join up to solve the murders before the police do. The book focuses on both Clementine, a PhD candidate studying the online group but also getting sucked into their investigation, and Dom, the actual detective in charge of the official police investigation. I had trouble really feeling invested in Clementine, but I did like Dom. It looks like this is the first book of an intended series. I am not sure that I would be interested in a second book. I would give this one 3 stars because I did not see the ending coming and it wasn't bad overall.
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I did enjoy this book but I feel there was more to be told, I'm hoping this means there will be a sequel
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This book was interesting to me, because I too would love to solve a crime!  It was interesting to read how professionals compared to those who want to be in the profession and sort of pretend to be online.  I think it did a great job of making it seem like this was almost a real story happening on Facebook or somewhere!
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Are you familiar with Web Sleuths?  I first read about these online amateur sleuths who are involved in solving missing persons and cold cases in a Kathy Reichs novel a couple of years ago.  These armchair detectives have solved a number of crimes or found the identity of "Jane or John Does" and have made the news frequently.  (Boston Globe, BBC, Washington Post)  There are evidently a few online groups with this mission.

When NetGalley offered My Little Eye in which a group of internet true crime enthusiasts take on a serial killer in London, I was eager to try another fictional look at online crime solving.  

From book description:  A young woman is found dead in her bedroom surrounded by rose petals - the latest victim of 'The Lover'. Struggling under the weight of an internal investigation, DI Dominic Bell is no closer to discovering the identity of the killer and time is running out.

As the murders escalate, Clementine Starke joins an online true crime group determined to take justice in their own hands - to catch the killer before the police. Hiding a dark secret, she takes greater risks to find new evidence and infiltrate the group.

As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case neither of them realise they're being watched. The killer is closer to them than they think, and he has his next victim - Clementine - firmly in his sights.

The first in a projected series by Stephanie Marland (who also writes as Steph Broadribb), My Little Eye introduces the reclusive Clementine Starke and DI Dominic Bell, who will presumably continue to collaborate in future books.  

I liked 

--the premise involving the online sleuths.  

--Clementine's thesis concerning cuts to police departments and the possibility that civilian online groups might help solve crimes more quickly.

Not so much...

--I found some of the online group interactions puzzling, too antagonistic, or so controlling that I wouldn't have been eager to join them.  It's fiction, but I would have preferred more online camaraderie that could be continued in the next book.

--Serial killers have become a little overdone.  In fiction, most serial killers are attractive or charming and intelligent.  In real life, the majority seem to be not so bright-- and brutal-- without the rose petal stuff.  I'd love to know how many mystery/crime novels feature serial killers.  I know it is a lot.

I wonder what the next installment will be like....  I will give it a try, hoping for more of the web sleuthing.

Read in February.  Blog review scheduled for April 3.  https://bookgarden.blogspot.com/

NetGalley/Orion Publishing

Mystery/Thriller.  April 5, 2018.  Print length:  352 pages.
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I don't know what I was expecting when I started this book, but it wasn't what I got.


It's like parallel stories going on. The police investigating a potential serial killer. A group of true crime fanatics trying to beat the police at solving the crimes. It flips back and forth. It just didn't encourage me to get invested in the characters or the story. It moves so slowly and frankly, I was bored. After reaching the halfway point, I just couldn't make myself continue.


I voluntarily reviewed an ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher.
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An online group of crime enthusiasts decides they can solve a crime quicker than the police. Among them is a student, Clementine Starke, who is using the group for her research paper about social media and crime solving. My first thought was that this was the stupidest idea ever! You have no clue who people you "meet" online are in real life. This was my biggest struggle with the book. Additionally, Clementine is dealing with the death, and illegal actions, of her police officer father whom she had idolized. The other main character is Dominic Bell, a police detective just back from leave after an undercover sting operation was blown and is trying to determine who he can trust. The reader enters the picture after the third murder takes place. This left me a bit unsettled as we don't really get the full information from the first two cases. Obviously we get the information we need, but it left me feeling like I was missing something. I think I would have given this 3 stars, but I like to be a tad more lenient with the initial books in a series as they have a foundation to lay, though I still had that uncomfortable feeling about the stupidity of trusting people online.
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This book is a strong start to a new police procedural series with a twist by Stephanie Marland, who has also published as Stephanie Broadribb. I did a bit of research into this book and it appears to be the beginning of a new series about Stark and Bell, who are our two narrators and lead characters. When I found out that this may be the first in a series, I felt that it was much easier for me to place this book in context of what to expect, and where some stories were left with threads hanging (presumably to set those up for the next installment).

This book had some outstanding twists and some polarizing characters—all of which made for an interesting read! I thought Stephanie did a particularly good job with keeping the reader guessing with the way the plot unfolded. It had many of the distractions that are some common in real police investigations—carry over from previous cases, personal life issues that impact our emotions day-to-day. All together, the story felt authentic, which is something not all procedural series are able to achieve!

The Plot

The book follows the separate but parallel stories of Clementine Stark—a PhD student studying the psychology of online interactions—and Dominic Bell—a detective coming off of a bad case and dealing with the fallout. Both are following the murders of young women in London by a serial murderer known in the press as The Lover. Dominic is the detective assigned to the case, but Dominic also is a man with his own demons. 

Meanwhile, Clementine is a virtual recluse, due to a dark past, and has been working on her PhD from the safety of her own home. Clementine is convinced that she can prove her thesis advisor wrong. She believes that in modern day, with all of the media attention and information available to the public, armchair detectives working together have the capability to solve a crime as fast or faster than the police. But to prove her theory right, Clementine will need to put herself out there in a way she hasn’t for 12 years. Can she be brave enough as a person to catch a serial murderer?

As Dominic finds his focus hindered by outside forces, Clementine teams up with a group of online true crime fanatics to track down The Lover once and for all. But if Clementine and her group really find the murderer first, what will the consequences be? And will Dominic be ok with an outside investigation team?

Reflections

This was a great start to this series, and there is a compelling case for two characters as different as Clementine Stark and Dominic Bell to balance one another out. I must admit that in the first third of this book I actually wondered if this was the second in a series because the details of the Atlantis investigation and Clementine’s past were mysterious but frequently alluded to. I encourage readers to be comfortable with this ambiguity, because the context of these events in important to the story of the two characters, and the details will be revealed in time by Marland.

I think many readers who are a fan of media and communications, online interactions, and true crime will be excited about this series. Marland does a fantastic job of weaving in online communication and developing characters over text-based medium that feel extremely true to the mystery of online personas. There are tidbits you can pick up, but there is so much that is hard to interpret when you only communicate over text. The interactions among the true crime group members were extremely compelling!

I have a group of students interested in the psychology of communications and a group of forensic students this summer. I’d be curious whether a cross-cohort discussion could be fascinating, and play off of the differences in Dominic and Clementine in the book. It might be an interesting way to teach students about the benefits of cross-disciplinary thinking, and I think my adult readers would enjoy this book.

All in all, this is a strong series debut. I did feel at times that Dominic’s past case took center stage over Clementine and her story, but I think that knowing this is a series helps—I expect Clementine to get more central as the series progresses, and I do feel like I connected a bit more with her character and story, personally.

Great work to Stephanie Marland, and I look forward to seeing this series develop in the future!

Thanks to NetGalley, Stephanie Marland (Broadribb), and Trapeze through Orion Publishing Group for a chance to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for a fair, honest review.
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I love a good crime book and this one just ticked all the boxes for me. It's a very fast paced with a brilliant story line. There's lots of lovely little red herrings thrown in to keep you on your toes! You just do not want to put it down until you know how it ends. It is just a very clever and enjoyable page turner and I look forward to reading more of this author's work.
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I absolutely love watching true crime documentaries and reading about serial killers. I can’t explain it; I just have a sort of morbid fascination with the subject. Of course, I know I’m not alone in this. I have met many other people both online and in-person who say the same thing. This book is about a group of people just like myself: self-proclaimed true crime addicts and armchair detectives. Only the characters in this story take their fascination much further than I ever have when they take matters into their own hands and try to solve a real-life murder case before the police department.

My Little Eye is an exciting and fast-paced story, with lots of unexpected plot twists and red herrings thrown in to keep you guessing up until the very end. I’m sure at some point you’ll think you know “whodunnit” (I know I did!), but chances are, you’re wrong.  I love the way social media is worked in to the storyline. All of the extra added details, like realistic Twitter handles and hashtags, help to make this story even more believable and modern. The characters are also very interesting and intriguing. There’s Clementine, a secretive recluse with a mysterious past, who joined the true crime group with a hidden agenda. Then there’s Dominic Bell, the lead detective assigned to The Lover’s case. Haunted by a flawed past, he is working to solve both the murder case and his own personal issues before they catch up to him. The chemistry with this unlikely pairing was absolutely brilliant and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them when the next book in this series comes out.

Rating: 4/5 stars
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I found this novel a pure joy to read and am so excited that it is the first in a new crime thriller series with a very likeable duo as the main characters. I loved the originality of the gripping storyline and the tight, fast paced storytelling of the complex and intriguing plot. I loved the way Stephanie Marland leaked out clues and pertinent information whilst still managing to keep me guessing and on the edge of my seat, never once able to predict the outcome of the investigation. The range of skilfully crafted and fascinating characters gave me great fun getting to know them and what their ideas and attitudes were. Oh yes, there is plenty of mileage left for several more Starke & Bell novels.
Clementine Starke has written and submitted her PhD thesis exploring the idea that so much red tape hinders police detectives, giving vigilante groups a greater chance of solving crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice. To further her premise she has joined an elite online true crime group based in London under the pseudonym of The Watcher. They are investigating a series of murders by a criminal the press have dubbed The Lover. He attacks and murders young women leaving their bodies totally changed by using cosmetics and dyes, scattering rose petals over their beds. The portmanteau is always the same as if he is recreating one particular woman. This case fascinates Clementine and as the group members share information, so the group seem nearer and nearer to unmask the murderer.
DI Dominic Bell is leading the police investigation, but is frustrated that confidential information is apparently being leaked by someone on his team. He is determined to bring the murderer to justice and is conducting an exhaustive campaign to explore all of the CCTV footage, forensic intelligence and witness statements in order to succeed. What he doesn’t realise is that an online campaign is bent on solving the crime before the police. Neither does he realise that he is being watched and that the killer is close by and has his eyes on his next victim.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from publisher Trapeze through my membership of NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. It’s a 5* review from me and a recommendation that this is an excellent, hugely enjoyable and chilling read that examines the ideas of online groups and the dangers that they may represent – just how do you know that someone is who they say they are and are pretending to be, whilst also examining the idea of how dangerous the ‘Bad Cop’ can be if he remains undiscovered.
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i found it difficult to get into to begin with but i persevered after a few chapters it had me gripped. 
I loved Dominic Bells character and his back story.  Clementine had me intrigued as her back story took a while to be teased out. Over all a good thriller with several twists along the way.
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★★★★1/2 (rounded up)
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
---

    They say I was dead for three thousand and six seconds. They say that when I woke I was different, but I don’t know if that’s true. What I do know is that my world became a different place once every one of those precious seconds had expired.

No matter how gripping the prologue might have been, when those're the first words you get from a character's POV, you sit up and pay attention.

The Lover is a serial killer just beginning to plague London, and a semi-distracted DI Dominic Bell with his team are making little progress in apprehending him (he's trying his level best not to be distracted by the press and the brass won't let him leave his last operation in the dust). Given that the Lover's technique is improving as the time between kills is decreasing, the pressure is mounting for Bell and the police. One group dissatisfied with their achievements are the members of True Crime London -- a group of True Crime aficionados from (duh) London. Some of them have decided to take matters into their own hands so they'll investigate these crimes themselves -- some for the thrill, some to show up the Police, some to draw attention to the fact that the Police are understaffed and underfunded. Clementine has her own reasons -- she's spent some time studying these people as part of her doctoral work in psychology; she hopes to get a better understanding of online communities through this group and she has a theory about "crowd-sourcing justice" she'd like to establish.

We meet both groups (through Dom's POV and Catherine's) as they begin to look into the third victim of The Lover. The race is on (even if only one group realizes there's a race) to find and put a stop to The Lover. I wouldn't mind more time getting to know the individuals in the respective teams as this goes along -- we do get to know some of the people involved in the investigation a bit, but this book focuses on Dom, Clementine and their hunts -- everyone else doesn't matter as much. I could talk a little more about the context for Dom, Clementine and the hunt for the killer -- but you don't want to know more until you get into this book.

The killer? We learn exactly as much as we need to in order that we know that the right guy has been taken care. He is not the most interesting character in the novel -- I guess he might be, but Marland didn't give us enough detail. This is such a great change from serial killer novels that dwell on the obsessions/fetishes/compulsions/methods of the killer, that seem to relish the opportunity to revel in the depravity. Marland shows us enough to be disturbed and utterly sickened by him, to believe that he's capable of the heinous acts he's guilty of -- and no more. I'm not saying everyone has to write a serial killer this way, but I love that approach.

The protagonists are far more interesting -- possibly more damaged even -- than the killer. They are wonderfully flawed characters and repeatedly -- and I do mean repeatedly -- do things that readers will not want them to -- because it's unwise, stupid, dangerous, unethical, immoral, or all of the above. And as much as I was saying "No, no, don't do that," I was relishing them do that because it meant great things for the book. At times it's almost like Marland wants you to not like Dom or Clementine, maybe even actively dislike them. Set that aside, because you will like them, because they are the protagonists hunting for a serial killer; because despite themselves they are likeable characters; and because they're so well written, with so many layers, and nuances that it's impossible for Marland to fully explore them and you want to know more. Both are in the middle of professional and personal crises as the book opens -- and all of those crises are going to get worse before we leave them (yeah, Dom's professional life is in worse shape than Clementine's and Clementine's been in crisis since just before those 3,006 seconds, so they're not exactly parallel).

Sometimes the police investigation and the True Crime London's investigation dig up the same information at about the same time, but on the whole the two follow very different approaches -- one more methodical, careful and predictable. The other is haphazard, reckless and (at times) criminal. But both get results, and for the reader, we get a full-orbed view of the investigation which is almost as engrossing as the protagonists carrying it out.

The book is able to say a lot about online communities, True Crime (and some of those who love it as a genre), public acts of grief, criminal investigations and the media -- and even a little about memory. All while telling a great story.

While I enjoyed the whole thing, the last quarter of the book was full of surprises that kept me leaning forward in my chair and completely glued to my screen as the plot raced from shock to shock to reveal to [redacted]. There's a reveal that took me utterly by surprise, but made sense when you stopped and thought about it. There's another reveal at the end that seemed fitting but wasn't what you expected -- and it followed an event that I never would've predicted. Oh, and that last sentence? I can't tell you how many times I swiped my Kindle screen trying to get what comes next, unwilling to believe that was it.

I was a fan (almost instantaneously) of Marland's alter ego's Lori Anderson and that series. My Little Eye has made me a fan of the author -- Broadribb, Marland, whatever names she's publishing under, it's an instabuy. This book got its hooks into me straightaway and didn't let go, I resented work and family as they distracted me (however good or pressing the reason) from Clementine and Dom's quests. I can confidently say that I've not read a mystery novel like this one -- and that's not easy this many decades into my love of the genre. I have no idea how Marland's going to follow this one up -- there's no way that book 2 is a repeat of My Little Eye, but beyond that? No clue what she'll be able to do. I don't care -- I just want to read it soon.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Orion Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this.
N.B.: As this was an ARC, any quotations above may be changed in the published work -- I will endeavor to verify them as soon as possible.
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