It’s Creepy Sunday!!! Let’s talk clowns and hide under the covers!
This review is my unbiased thank you to Avon and Sabah Khan for letting me be part of this blog tour.
Title: Hold my Hand
Author: M.J. Ford
Publisher: Avon UK
Date of publication: 6 March 2018
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and a half!
How long do you hunt for the missing?
A horrible vanishing act…
When a young Josie Masters sees a boy wearing a red football shirt, Dylan Jones, being taken by a clown at a carnival, she tries to alert the crowds. But it’s too late. Dylan has disappeared…
Thirty years later, Josie is working as a police officer in Bath. The remains of the body of a child have been found – complete with tatters of a torn red football shirt. Is it the boy she saw vanish in the clutches of the clown? Or is it someone else altogether?
And then another child disappears…
She rang the bell. On the other side of the door, she heard the laughter of adults and the shrieking of children. No one came. She thought about ringing again, but decided to go around the back instead. She passed the bins, reached over the side gate and pulled back the bolt.
‘Hey!’ a figure jumped back. ‘Oh, it’s you!’
Jo couldn’t see the cigarette but she could smell it, and it set off a pang, even though she
hadn’t touched one for years. Her niece stood in the darkness of the side passage, illuminated only by the faint light from her phone’s screen.
‘Why didn’t you go through the front?’
‘No one answered.’ She saw the dying embers of a fag butt. ‘Would it help to tell you those things will kill you?’
‘Please don’t tell Mum.’
‘I’m sure she knows already.’
‘I doubt it,’ said Emma sulkily. She was taller than Jo already, even though she was only
fifteen. ‘Ben not with you?’
‘He couldn’t make it.’ She wasn’t even close to being able to tell her family. Ben had charmed them all from the start, like he did with everyone.
Emma pointed further down the passage. ‘Oh, well – the fun’s all round the back.’
There were people spilling out from a set of bifold doors. Paul and Amelia had redone the kitchen, she saw – extending it out another few metres with a glass-roofed orangery
arrangement. It must have cost a fortune. Their guests, all effortlessly cool forty-somethings, were drinking from champagne glasses, lounging around a kitchen island and on outdoor furniture. Jo hated it already, but told herself to give it a chance.
William, her nephew, was charging past the legs of the adults, holding a very realistic Uzi
machine gun. One of the guests was pretending to be shot, collapsing against a wall.
‘How many times,’ boomed Paul’s voice. ‘Stop killing people. The police will shut us down…’ He caught sight of Jo and grinned. ‘See, they’re already here! Hi sis!’
I have always told everyone clowns were evil. Who is the clever one who thought a giant blood-red mouth guy would make children happy??? Must have been a psychopath. Next time someone tells me I am paranoid, I am throwing a copy of Hold My Hand to their head! Finally, I have proof!
So, clowns and a striking cover of a child. I was convinced. My instinct was right.
Hold My Hand felt different from other crime stories. Firstly because we meet our main character, Josie, as a kid. Did she already have an eye for unusual things or did the event she witnessed spurred her to become a police officer? I’m thinking it was a mix of both, even if with time, her seeing a little boy before he disappeared turned into a memory. Some things stick with you, and the story introduces us to a Josie with a lot of her past on her shoulders. Josie isn’t black or white, but she has a strong sense of duty and justice as well as an aura of honesty that drew me to her very early on. She knows what is right but it doesn’t mean she will choose this option. Still, she is a woman with values and principles. I loved this about her. Her family’s dynamic felt very real and painful. Two children. A brother and a sister. He’s got the perfect life, she spends her days and nights tracking down bad guys. Josie sounds as if she’s in the middle of a life crisis, stuck between what is, what was, what could be, and I enjoyed seeing her grow as the story unfolded, both as a cop and as a woman.
The beginning is clear about how much Josie’s private life will be integrated to the crime story. I loved watching both sides evolve, take a step back, struggle, and get a resolution. I am writing this as though the story was straightforward and easy. Hahaha. Not a chance!
An old body is discovered, resulting in an old shadow from the past coming back to haunt Josie in Bath. Is it the little boy she saw leaving the carnival so many years ago? The guilt is still very present in her heart and you can feel the case is personal. So being sent on another investigation right after feels like a betrayal, especially when it is for personal reasons other than her being the only witness decades ago.
Thankfully… Or not, Josie’s new colleagues are on a similar case, a young boy having been seen with a guy wearing a mask before disappearing. The clock is ticking, Josie can’t help wondering if her old clown is back, and I must admit my thoughts followed the same path! Kept on the side in her new work environment and out of the old case, Josie finds her way and does her best. The fact she was out of her comfort zone and treated like any other member of the police force was refreshing. She did get half chewed by the system, but she could rely on her resources. A normal woman juggling with personal and professional issues while dealing with unsettling cases. Being a police officer doesn’t mean you are immune to vulnerability, I think this struck a chord with me. To hell with clichés! I cannot pinpoint the factor that made me love the story so much as to refuse a trip to MacDonalds, but behind the appearances of just another crime book is the true face of secrets and scary stories that keep you up at night.
The compelling writing and the perfect balance between Josie’s demons and the ones she chases kept me on the edge of my seat. Do people change? What are they capable of?
Hold my Hand plays with our fears (at least, mine!) and offers a refreshing and engrossing realistic crime story.
You can find the book on Amazon!
And if you want to know more about clowns, follow the traces on the blog tour!