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Friday, 17 March 2017

‘Find Me’ by J. S. Monroe

Published by Head of Zeus,
9 February2017.
ISBN: 978178497805-1

Jar and Rosa had met when they were students at Cambridge, both studying English, both ambitious, Jar to write, Rosa to act. And they fell deeply in love and were happy, expecting to spend their lives together. Until that is, Rosa jumps into the sea at Cromer on the north Norfolk coast. Her father who worked in a rather mysterious capacity for the government had been killed in a motor accident in India and grief at his death is assumed to be the reason for Rosa’s suicide.  Although her body is never found, she is assumed to be dead. However, Jar cannot accept that she is dead and is haunted by her frequent apparent appearances, although the family doctor in Jar’s home town of Galway tells him that they are post-bereavement hallucinations. Jar refuses to accept bereavement counselling and drifts into a dead end job, writing up stories about celebs for an on-line magazine. But then he sees Rosa again and this time she doesn’t look like a hallucination; she looks real. He follows her to Paddington and sees her get on a train to Penzance. Someone else who doesn’t believe that Rosa is dead is Rosa’s aunt Amy who lives in Cromer and she gives Jar the hard disc from Rosa’s computer on which she had written a diary but so corrupted that it cannot be retrieved. But his work colleague and friend Carl knows someone who can retrieve what Rosa has written and her diary forms the basis of a narrative parallel to that of Jar’s. In it we learn that Rosa’s story is far more complicated than simple grief for her father’s death and involves the security services of the United Kingdom and/or the United States with links to Guantanamo – or does it?

The author who is in fact the journalist and novelist Jon Stock, author of the Legoland thriller series, tells a highly convoluted and skilfully told story with many twists and turns and apparent reversals of narrative. Although it is described as a romantic thriller and Jar’s love for Rosa is the driver of the plot, I would not myself describe it ‘romantic’ in the sense in which the word is usually applied.  Jar is an appealing character whose grief at Rosa’s death comes across as very real and many of the other characters reveal themselves as not being in reality what they appear to be.
Reviewer: Radmila May

J.S. Monroe After reading English at Cambridge University, he worked as a freelance journalist in London, writing features for most of Britain's national newspapers, as well as contributing regularly to BBC Radio 4. He was also chosen for Carlton TV's acclaimed screenwriters course. Between 1998 and 2000, he was Delhi correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, and he also wrote the Last Word column in The Week Magazine (India) from 1995, when he lived in Cochin, South India, to 2012. His first novel, The Riot Act ,was  published by Serpent's Tail. Dead Spy Runnin', his third novel and the first in the Daniel Marchant (or 'Legoland') trilogy, was published by HarperCollins and has been translated into five languages
Jon lives in Wiltshire with his wife and three children.

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.

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