- Shaun Baines
The Girl on the Bus by N.M. Brown
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
Best of Crime Book Reviews
On this blog, I'll be posting my thoughts on the books I read. Nothing new there, you might think, but at the end of the review, I'll let you know which book is next. I hope you pick up a copy and read along with me. Post your comments and tell me your thoughts. It would be lovely if you post your reviews on Amazon, too. It really helps the authors to keep writing the books you enjoy.
Be warned. The prologue to The Girl on the Bus is one of the most chilling I've ever read. It sets us up for a claustrophobic serial killer mystery that never lets up.
We follow Leighton Jones as he settles into his new retirement from the Oceanside PD. When Vicki reports her friend Laurie is missing, Leighton is the only one to listen. They discover a ring of killers and set about unravelling the mystery of missing travellers.
Leighton is the typical hero – striving to do his best despite an over-bearing boss and tragic past. Honestly, I've read this hero before, but what marks him out is a gentleness and calm attitude which make him unique.
Vicki is headstrong and vulnerable, making a perfect duo of them both.
As with most serial killer books, the trick is to find the right hook and it usually gets quite mundane. When I discovered the hook in The Girl in the Bus, it was so obvious and so terrifying that I'm surprised no-one has thought of it before. I won't ride a bus without a concealed weapon ever again. I've used this word before and I'll use it again – chilling.
The climax builds into an orgy of violence, which is both fitting and satisfying. And yet there is more. A final, unexpected twist brings us to the end, gasping for breath.
The writing is descriptive and accessible. It's occasionally hokey, but no more so than others. I would have liked more background on the killers – why they were committing these crimes? How they came up with the idea? But there is scope to continue this as a series, which may yet answer those questions.
The pace drives along at a lick and the reader is never, ever bored. Yes, there are the standard tropes associated with this genre, but with enough fresh spins to keep you engaged.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl on the Bus and would recommend it to anyone. Make sure to keep the lights on. You're in for a bumpy ride.
The Girl on the Bus by N.M. Brown was published by Bloodhound Books and is available from Amazon. His second book Carpenter Road, also featuring Leighton Jones, is available here.