Friday, 8 August 2014

Guest Book Review: Richard Madeley - The Way You Look Tonight

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Not until she was 16 did Stella Arnold learn the full truth about her father, how handsome, charming James turned out to be a cold-blooded, psychotic extortionist, racketeer and killer. Knowing now what her father was capable of, she decides to study psychology and the criminal mind, and to further her education in America. In the spring of 1962 she flies to Boston where, being beautiful, bright and fashionably English, she becomes someone of huge fascination and on every invitation list. Then comes an invitation one summer weekend to the home of the Kennedys. Stella quickly becomes part of the inner Kennedy circle as they party through the hot summer nights. Both brothers, JFK and Bobby, make their moves on her but she firmly, charmingly, repels them. Further south, on the Florida Keys, a killer is on the loose. The case, unsolved, begins to rock America, and with her specialist knowledge of psychopaths, Stella is co-opted by the police investigation and prepares to fly south...

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Normally I read women’s fiction, historical fiction and only two Scandinavian crime writers so judging a book by its cover I expected Richard Madeley’s The Way You Look Tonight to be a nice, light, romantic read. But boy was I wrong. Reading the prologue it was evident this was not an easy, fluffy, romantic story but a hard hitting, intriguing and at times gruesome read with an element of romance thrown in to satisfy those who had been expecting a completely different novel. Fans of crime novels would be easily misled by the cover and therefore miss out as I feel the cover is not what you would expect from a historical, crime thriller .This genre is not really my kind of thing but I persisted with the book and found it to be quite compelling if a little slow in places. 

We first meet Stella Arnold as she travels to Boston to begin her P.H.D in psychopathy. She stays with friends of her mother, the Rockfairs, who introduce her to a group of world famous people at a barbeque in Martha’s Vineyard – none other than the Kennedy’s. Struck by her background, alertness and intelligence J.F.K employ’s Stella to aid the F.B.I in solving a series of grisly murders in the Florida Keys before the murderer loses all control of himself and causes even more damage and danger to the unsuspecting residents of such a tranquil, beautiful place. Stella is reluctant at first but agrees to help. She reaches the Keys and meets Lee Foster who works for the F.B.I and is known for his success in catching serial killers. Together Stella and Lee must combine their knowledge and attempt to stay one step ahead of the killer in order to stop his reign of terror. The story is also told from the killers point of view which is unusual but it did give in-depth detail into the mind of a serial killer and made us realise what makes him tick and how he always appeared to be one step ahead of the F.B.I.

This was a well written book with some good characters .The setting of the Florida Keys was fantastic and it was obvious Richard Madeley had done plenty of research into this scenic area as the descriptions really made you feel you were there side by side with Stella and Lee as they attempted to unravel the killers secrets. But at times some of the scenes with the Kennedy’s were a little far-fetched and unrealistic. It was as if the Kennedy’s were put in just for the historical element of the novel whereas I feel the storyline would have moved along just as smoothly and effectively without their inclusion. 

I loved Stella as a main character. She was a confident young girl thrown into an unusual, demanding situation but she had the ability to handle it really well as she put her studies in psychopathy and profiling to good use. Stella is a smart, astute, sassy, no nonsense woman thrown into the male dominated world of investigation in the early 1960’s but she holds her own and is determined to track down the killer and help Lee solve another case. I wanted Stella to feature even more as I thought there was a real lull in the middle of the book where nothing much happened and Stella seemed to be forgotten about as she was back with the Rockfairs for a time. A little faster paced action was needed here to keep the reader turning the pages as I became disinterested until the final part of the book when the action picked up again and I raced through the chapters to find out how it all ended. 

Overall, it was a pleasing, surprising read, one I was not expecting from Richard Madeley. I look forward to seeing what he will come up with next. 

I'd like to thank Isabel at Simon and Schuster for sending a copy of this eBook to Emma to review.  

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