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Tuesday 17 September 2019

‘The Killer You know’ by S.R. Masters

Published by Sphere,
2 May 2019.
: 978-0-75157037-3 (PB)

It is 1997 and friends Adeline, Rupesh, Steve, Jen and Will are gathered around and discussing what they intend to be doing in sixteen years’ time when they will be in their thirties. Most come up with the usual ambitions, doctor, actress etc. until it comes to Will's turn. He announces that he intends to kill three people making him a serial killer. They will all be unrelated and none of them will be traceable back to him, but his gathered friends will know he carried out the murders. At first, they have a good laugh but when he seems serious the atmosphere changes. But surely, he is having them on, isn't he? 

We then go to 2015 and the same friends have arranged to meet up after all this time. Everyone turns up except Will. They wait well into the evening and give up on him. While they are waiting though, Jen happens to check on her phone and discovers there has been a death at a festival, exactly how Will described he would kill the first person. A coincidence? Very disturbing. They decide they must try to trace him, even if it’s just to put their minds at rest.

Throughout the book alternate chapters are set in 1997-8 and 2015 and we learn more about the characters of the “gang” as they think of themselves. It appears Steve and Adeline and Rupesh and Jen were items which left Will rather out on a limb. He always seemed a bit strange and withdrawn.  Back in 1997 the gang also had issues with a Bill Strachan a neighbour, but Will seemed to connect with him. This didn't go down too well with the rest of them, they felt Strachan's behaviour was having an influence on Will.

When a game is devised, where they take it in turns to leave clues for the rest to follow, it leads to more bad feelings especially between Steve and Will. Eventually though they all leave to go back to college still pretty good friends.

Back to 2015 and Will seems to have disappeared, there are tales of him being on drugs and in trouble with the police, but the rest of the gang are determined to find him. But will they regret it?

Once I got used to switching from 1997 to the relative present day, I really enjoyed the increasingly creepy, uneasy undercurrents as the characters of the gang were slowly revealed. A rather clever piece of writing showing how our younger lives can influence us years later. Recommended for lovers of a slowly building mystery with disturbing atmospheric undertones. 
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

S R Masters grew up around Birmingham, and spent his teen years reading, playing in bands and wandering through fields with friends. After studying Philosophy at Cambridge, he worked in public health for the NHS, specialising in health behaviour. His short fiction has featured internationally. He regularly contributes to UK short fiction anthology series The Fiction Desk, having won their Writer's Award for his short story 'Just Kids'. His story 'Desert Walk' was included in Penguin Random House USA's 'Press Start to Play' collection. The Killer You Know is his debut novel. He currently lives in Oxford with his wife and son.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

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