I love novels told in an epistolary fashion. In Girl, 11, much of the book is told through a podcast. (I love podcasts!) Elle is the host and the investigator behind a true crime podcast called Justice Delayed. Season Five focuses on the Countdown Killer. It's been twenty years since the last death and he's never been caught. Is he dead? But within days of Elle's podcast, there's a new kidnapping - and death. Could he be back? Is there a copycat using the podcast as a template?
The podcast style rings true - interviews, monologues from the host and more. (I bet the audiobook version would be good to listen to.) Elle is a great lead character and I quite liked her. She's intelligent and driven. But that drive to find the killer is verging on obsessive, damaging her reputation, taking a toll on her marriage and friendships and her own wellbeing. The supporting cast was good as well.
Clarke's plotting is not straight forward. (Yay! I like not being able to guess.) There are a number of times Elle is sure she has nailed some fact or clue down, only to be proven wrong. There are a number of suspects - all worthy of being 'the one'. The tension and action gets tighter and more urgent as the hours and days pass. Clarke inserts a really great twist that caught me off guard in the last third of the book. I did find the extent of Elle's involvement with the police investigating the crime to be a bit of a stretch.
There are many points of view in Girl, 11 - Elle's, the killer and one of the captives. The killer is quite disturbing. And the young captive's are nerve wracking.
This was an impressive debut and I will be watching for Clarke's next book. I'm kinda hoping Elle and her podcast might return with a new case? Read an excerpt of Girl, 11.