I’m not gonna lie I read the title to this book and went into the reading of it with little enthusiasm. Not another faded copy of a copy, trying to jump on a bandwagon.
The prologue disabused me of any notion that this fine novel lacked originality within two pages. The prologue, which is exceptional, is strong in emotions and embraces a deep sense of unease. Brown conveys the rising panic of losing a child vividly. As a result, the reader’s concern is genuine and deep. Very skilfully done.
Written in third-person, past tense throughout, Brown’s novel steps on every expectation you may have from its title. Strong writing unveils unflinching acts of violence that take place in confined settings which should be safe for the characters but aren’t, building the menace the book practically seeps. Descriptive, without being overly-flowery, details of settings and people elevate this work above its peers. Brown has succeeded in writing a wholly immersive plot that punches you in the gut whilst drawing concern, fear and very real emotion from his readers.
Anything but formulaic, the story is well planned and imaginative in its execution. It’s also riddled with believable characters whose actions are in keeping with the challenges and their personalities.
As is common in the genre, a little too much exposition at times for my tastes, but this is a minor complaint amongst an accomplished piece of fiction.
The finale was very good, but I particularly enjoyed the prologue which was first-rate.
Cheeky, humorous and displaying some superb foreshadowing all in one go, it was an unexpected nod to the readers and a high point in a book that whilst tightly plotted, did not take itself too seriously.
A retired detective and a young woman are about to face their worst fears.
Vicki Reiner is emotionally isolated and craves the fleeting happiness she experienced in the years prior to her college graduation. In an attempt to recapture this, she invites her former friend and room-mate, Laurie, for a break at her deserted beachside home. However, despite booking an online bus ticket, her friend never shows up and seems to have vanished.
Unable to accept the bizarre circumstances of the disappearance, Vicki approaches the police who dismiss her concerns before enlisting the reluctant help of Leighton Jones – a newly retired detective who is haunted by the death of his teenage daughter. Despite trying to remain detached from the case, Leighton is drawn to Vicki and her search for justice.
The unlikely pair face numerous obstacles but using a combination of methods he and Vicki track the killers who are working across the dusty freeways of North America.
Soon Vicki and Leighton find themselves nervously waiting at a remote bus stop expecting the arrival of the bus.
Will they ever discover what happened to Laurie?
And can they both escape with their lives?
Norman M. Brown is an author living and working in Scotland.
Having experimented with poetry, scripts and short stories over the years, he finally decided to write sit down and write the type of fiction he would like to read. The result was his crime thriller -The Girl on the Bus. As result, Norman was delighted to be signed to Bloodhound Books at the start of this year. The Girl in the Bus, is his first published novel. He is currently writing a second novel based on its protagonist – detective Leighton Jones.