The Hashtag Killer
Catch a killer or save a child. What would you do?
DI Jen Flowers thought she’d seen it all after fifteen years on the force, but when a vigilante serial killer hits the city and uses social media to gather supporters, she must fight the public and her doubts to catch a murderer and save her daughter.
Suffering from blackouts and abandoned as a child by her father, Ruby Vasquez has been chasing that one scoop to make her an internet star. Living with an alcoholic mother who hates her, Ruby discovers a secret about the vigilante’s first victim, which puts her in the killer and DI Flowers’ sights.
Jen and Ruby have to overcome the secrets in their past while battling each other to discover the Hashtag Killer’s identity. Jen will have to choose between keeping her daughter safe or finding a killer, while Ruby will need to decide if becoming famous is more important than doing the right thing.
Andrew French is a man of no wealth and little taste.
He lives amongst faded seaside glamour on the North East coast of England.
He likes gin and cats but not together, new music and old movies, curry and ice cream.
Slow bike rides and long walks to the pub are his usual exercise, as well as flicking through the pages of good books and the memoirs of bad people.
An original and timely police procedural with an abundance of twists along the way. The Hashtag Killer, as you might expect, uses the power of social media to bring the killings to the public’s attention, and wannabe influencer Ruby Vasquez cannot resist keeping the story alive with her blog posts.
From the moment Ruby realised she was first on the scene, she was in “detective” mode on the dark web, finding information that a regular internet user would not see about the victim. Her reporting of that info played a massive role in managing the public’s opinion of the victim, and rather than call out for the killer’s arrest, there was instead a sense of justice having been done in ridding society of a rapist. Suddenly, the killer became a vigilante whose actions were appreciated – definitely not the ideal scenario for the police’s investigation.
The story was told from various points of view – DI Jen Flowers, blogger-journo Ruby and the killer him/herself (no spoilers here!) Such an approach allowed the readers great insight into the lives of Jen and Ruby, and how the story impacted their lives. For me, the killer’s chapters were overwritten and full of excessive details that had me skimming ahead. It soon became clear that the person who “claimed” to be the killer couldn’t possibly be, and that aspect made the killer’s chapters a struggle for me to get through.
Things picked up considerably when looking at the investigation from DI Flower’s perspective, and with Ruby’s efforts to remain relevant in the cut-and-thrust world of social media. The friction between the police and the news reporting made for great tension and kept the story moving at a good pace, adding another layer of drama and anxiety to the police’s need to stay ahead of the game if they were to ever catch the killer.
An interesting and original take on a crime investigation, highlighting the difficult job the police have when public opinion is swayed by the force that is social media.
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