Written by Steve Mosby — Have you ever looked at one of those old-fashioned drawings people share on Facebook now and then? You know the ones I mean, where you initially see the face of an old hag, but turn your head slightly and she is suddenly transformed into a beautiful young woman. It’s all a matter of perception… and the same can be said of The Nightmare Place.
I suppose I should have been forewarned at the end of chapter one. The story was moving along nicely, I thought, when Mr Mosby chucked a mighty big spanner into the works. Yep it was those jolly old perceptions at play once again. And I was so shocked that I even shouted out in my surprise.
It was a warning of things to come, because in this book you never quite know where the story is going to take you. And that’s what makes it such a brilliant read.
DI Zoe Dolan is haunted by a recurring nightmare set in a place she knew well in her errant teenage years. In her waking hours, she is forced to deal with the living nightmares of an ever growing number of women who have been stalked and attacked in an unnamed British town by a shadowy figure nicknamed the Creeper. He breaks into the homes of attractive young women and brutally assaults them. But there is no pattern to his actions and the police can’t work how he get into the properties in the first place. Worst of all, the violence he inflicts upon his victims is escalating at an alarming rate.
Zoe and her partner DI Chris Sands are floundering, until Jane Webster receives a call while she is manning the phones at a confidential helpline where she is a volunteer. The caller is a man who wants to unburden himself about the crimes. It could be a hoax, but Jane’s instincts tell her different. The question is, can she convince Zoe of the caller’s veracity?
As the story progresses, both women are dragged out of their comfort zones and into places they would rather not dwell. It’s a thin line between love and hate, safety and danger – and neither women appears destined to come out of this unscathed. Along the way you’ll grasp at threads of plot and manfully begin to knit them into a story, only for the author to unravel them again with an unforeseen cul de sac or detour – see what I mean about perceptions?
I loved both Zoe and Jane. They’re cut from very different cloths – Zoe is a thrusting and driven woman who has fought hard to leave her troubled early years behind her and succeed in her chosen career, while Jane at first comes across as a little mouse but is transformed when she finally finds plucks up the courage to speak out. The contrasts are well drawn and add light and shade to a book with a very dark subject at its heart.
The Nightmare Place serves as my introduction to the work of Leeds-based writer Mosby, who has written several police procedurals and psychological thrillers and has already garnered a loyal following. I found this psychological thriller interesting, engaging and at times frustrating. If I had one criticism it would be that we are once again taken down that increasingly well-trodden path of creepy stalker preying on young women. I’ve read so many fictional variations on this type of crime lately that it’s a wonder I can sleep at night without locking all my windows and double checking the door bolts.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars