Publication: 4th April 2019 – Trapeze
When a group of urban explorers stumble across a murderer’s kill room in a derelict film studio, terror strikes. And when one of the group is found dead, the team realise – they’re being hunted.
DI Dominic Bell is investigating the murder, but as the body count rises, time is running out. The only person who can help him is a figure from his past, Clementine Starke – but Clementine is haunted by her own demons. Can the two of them pair up to catch the killer? Or is it already too late?
I started reading Stephanie Marland’s novels because I am a huge fan of her Lori Anderson series, which she writes under the name Steph Broadribb. YOU DIE NEXT is the second book in the Starke & Bell series and, even though it’s a bit darker than her other novels, I am completely addicted and I am already looking forward to the next novel.
Who are the protagonists? Clementine Starke is a researcher who studies the effects of obsession on people for her PhD. Clementine herself is her own first case study. Why? Because she has two obsessions: the murder of her father and DI Dominick Bell. Her father was a police detective that was murdered during a fire that almost killed her and left her numb to emotions. The killer was never found, but she’s enlisted the help of a true-crime online group to find out the truth. She met DI Dominick Bell while solving a case in the first book, My Little Eye, where he saved her life from a killer. This event connected them in a “special” (her word), unhealthy and dangerous (my words) way. Despite Dominick’s efforts to keep Clementine at a distance, she gets mixed up not only in his new murder investigation, but also in the case of corrupt officers that involves one of his own family.
In YOU DIE NEXT, the author explores a world that I am unfamiliar with and that, to be honest, I didn’t even know existed. Urban explorers are groups of people that film themselves while they go through abandoned and neglected buildings and, thanks to technology and social media, they have thousands of followers during their nightly adventures. During the filming, their faces are covered and they use nicknames and no one knows who they really are. One night, one of the most popular group of urban explores breaks into an old film studio and stumbles upon a scene that makes them run away scared. The fear of prosecution for the break in stops them from going to the police, but someone is leaving threatening messages for them. And when the first body turns up, they ask themselves, who dies next? As the bodies pile up, DI Dominick Bell tries to solve the case while Clementine is ready to do absolutely anything to help and protect him.
Clementine and Dominick are both intriguing characters. They both have a very dark side, they both have demons to deal with and their relationship is obsessive and a bit dangerous. I like these two flawed and engaging characters that created a story that is intense, twisty, and chilling and that kept me completely hooked until the very last word.