Trust Me

Written by Angela Clarke — How can you solve a crime when the witness has no proof it ever occurred? It’s an interesting premise as the third in Angela Clarke’s social media series takes live-streaming as its centre point.

Home alone on a Friday night, with only a glass of wine for company, a high school head works on her laptop, doing research for paper on sexual safety and the internet. Then a live video stream begins and Kate can only look on in horror as a young girl is raped and viciously attacked, maybe even killed. She desperately wants to help, but all she knows is that the film originates from London. Then the connection is lost, the video vanishes and there’s no way of reconnecting with it.

No wonder, then, that the police officer who calls to see Kate seems sceptical about the whole thing. Perhaps it was a pre-recorded video, not live? Maybe Kate had drunk more wine than she realised? Frustrated, she turns to an old contact for help – and that’s where DS Nasreen Cudmore and her friend Freddie Venton come in.

With nothing to go on, Nas can do little to help Kate, but former journalist Freddie isn’t about to let her old contact down. Suddenly, Kate’s story begins to get media coverage and other people who saw the attack online begin to come out of the woodwork. Why, oh why, did none of the people who witnessed the video think of taking a screen grab? Armed with nothing more than a few sketches of the perpetrators, the victim and the room in which the attack took place, it’s going to be an uphill struggle… Add a second storyline involving a missing teenager, daughter of a known gang kingpin, and you’re assured of a riveting read.

Freddie takes centre stage in this unique series, and rightly so as she’s a protagonist like no other I’ve encountered. She works alongside Nas in the Met’s Gremlin cyber-crime team, but while her friend has a rank and warrant card, Freddie is an intelligence analyst – or at least she was until budget cuts made the role a part-time one. Now she is also a civilian investigator, a role looked down upon by the rank and file officers. This is my first acquaintance with Freddie and it soon becomes clear that job titles don’t mean a lot to her – she’s a renegade whose offbeat style gets results, but not without treading on a few toes in the process.

So while Freddie circumvents the rules, takes risks and generally makes a nuisance of herself, Nas is trying to stay under the radar. An ill-judged fling with her boss has blotted her otherwise spotless record and she just wants to get the job done. These two are like oil and water, but that imbalance really works and the reader is soon rooting for both of them.

This is a book with an almost young adult vibe, perhaps prompted by the social media aspect of the storyline. Perhaps best to keep it away from young eyes though – some scenes (one in a store room in particular) are probably not for them. The focus sharpens and blurs at will. One moment we are following a police procedural route, only to be led along a near-mystical path the next. That see-sawing is a little confusing and results in the narrative losing momentum.

Trust Me works well as a standalone but at some point I’m planning to go back and read the previous two book in the series, the first of which is reviewed here. I’ll also keep an eye out for any that follow, because Freddie and Nas are a double act worth watching.

Other novels where social media play a key role include 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough and, more gruesomely, The Caller by Chris Carter.

Avon Books
Print/Kindle/iBook
£7.99

CFL Rating: 4 Stars

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