So we have Ruby Day, a vlogger aged just 20, who posts videos about all the fun stuff in life, shopping, make-up and the like, and then she goes missing. Why would anyone want to take Ruby and why do they want to keep her name in the spotlight by posting videos about her, post disappearance.
There is no doubt that Ruby’s disappearance is a mystery but her parents are convinced from the start that this is serious, and although she’s an adult the investigation is fast-tracked. After all everyone wanting the mystery solved, most of all Ruby’s adoring teenage fans, it has fallen to a special crimes unit set up in the centre of London with all the best equipment money can buy to find out. Enter Detective Sergeant Zain Harris who is working for Detective Inspector Kate Riley. Both are strong and determined characters and part of the smallish team carrying out the investigation which is far more techy than most police procedurals. We enter the realms of the ‘dark web’ as Zain uses less than approved methods to delve into Ruby and her associates’ on-line life.
The lead characters have been created with a real sense of depth and mystery. Kate Riley is keeping a secret regarding her transfer from the US to London, and alongside the main plot this side interest is eked out allowing the reader to build a picture of her background, but crucially no-one else knows these facts and she is determined to keep it that way. Meanwhile Zain is keeping his own demons close to his chest too, with clear signs that a previous case prior to him joining the newly formed team has psychologically damaged him, he too isn’t over keen to share his private life either. Alex Caan hasn’t neglected the more minor characters though and cleverly reveals them in half-light, each one needing to enter centre stage a few times before I got a sense of who they really are, and this includes our missing vlogger Ruby who has far more substance than it would first appear. On the one hand this is excellent, far more true to life than those books which give you fully-formed characters from the off, but with a rather large cast, it took a fair amount of concentration to ensure that I knew exactly what was being revealed about whom!
I really enjoyed this foray into a life that is a bit like a foreign land to me. Of course I know what YouTube is and I know that vloggers get endorsed by companies for promoting their goods but I haven’t ever been moved to see what it’s all about, I think these lifestyle vlogs are aimed at younger viewers than me! However that aside I can see that this world means big money for those who are successful and in Cut to the Bone we meet Ruby’s management team. I did have a quiet chuckle when one man was asked to reveal exactly what he did for his fee, after all Ruby was successful long before she needed an agent and a contract!
The pace of this book was fairly brisk with a number of different perspectives used and with so many side issues to be considered including the tactics of those from all walks of life who want a larger slice of the pie than they deserve, the need to keep reading on was a compelling one. Some of the descriptions, especially later on in this book are not for the faint-hearted, and as graphic as you’d expect for a book that is describing visual media!
Overall a fantastic debut full of a great mixture of characters with a plot that was as interesting as it was unusual.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Twenty7 Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book ahead of the paperback publication today, 3 November 2016.