Title: Death of a Bookseller
Author: Alice Slater
Narrators: Emma Noakes, Victoria Blunt
Pages/Length: 384/12hrs 58 mins
Year of Release: 2023
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Review Copy via NetGalley
Roach – bookseller, loner and true crime fanatic is not interested in making friends. She has all the company she needs in her serial killer books, murder podcasts and her pet snail, Bleep.
That is, until Laura joins the bookshop.
This tale of obsession is told from the dual perspectives of the person who carries the flame and the person who is their focus.
It quickly becomes apparent that True-Crime-Podcast-loving Roach feels she has a connection to Laura that’s not reciprocated. But Roach isn’t deterred; she sets out to become friends.
I find thrillers hard to review. Their strength is in the tension that builds as the story unfolds page by page. I don’t want to spoil things by revealing too much.
Slater’s skill is keeping pages turning. I listened to the audiobook, and each chapter is short, sharp and alternates between each character’s point of view. I kept listening
And due to the medium, I couldn’t flip forwards or backwards; I was trapped in each uncomfortable moment, and half-closing my eyes made no difference. I had to relive them from both sides over and over again.
I think Slater likes both Roach and Laura. You may disagree with me, but Slater has created characters who have sympathetic traits. Or at least they garner compassion, to begin with at least; whether you remain endeared to them by the end, that’s on you.
The entire bookshop’s staff rota is memorable, and how Roach and Laura see them gives a truer reflection of their individuality.
She also gives an insight into what really happens in a bookshop. It’s not just happily handing over books to the next customer. There seems to be more than one day working with a hangover.
I need to mention the performances of Emma Noakes & Victoria Blunt. They are perfect for the roles. The creepiness of Roach and the coldness of Laura come across strongly. There is a small point where Roach’s voice slipped; it was less than a chapter, but then the persona came back strong and clear. The editing was clever when Roach was taking off Laura’s voice, and vice versa, when the narrators swapped to say their own lines, which felt natural and creepy.
I spent time in their heads that I have the compulsion to change the locks and have vowed never to pick up a true crime book.
If you’re a lover of creeping dread, bookshops or are just curious about what’s in the mind of a True Crime lover, then Death of a Bookseller ticks all the boxes.
Rating: 4.25 Date: 26 April 23