4 stars out of 5
If nothing else, the story here is timely: At the heart of it all is "vlogging" - video blogging - plus more technology tricks for ferreting deleted information out of computers and cell phones than I ever dreamed existed. All in all, it's a very good debut novel, for which I thank the publisher (via NetGalley) for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
It begins when Ruby Day, a wildly popular vlogger, is reported missing by her distraught parents. The case lands at the feet of detective inspector Kate Riley, detective superintendent Zain Harris and the rest of the team from their newly formed department. Things take a nasty turn when a video is posted online depicting Ruby begging for her life, putting the detective team on high alert with the realization that they've got to move fast - but there are few clues to indicate where they should go next.
As team members put their technology talents to work, they begin to uncover information that points to Ruby's ex-boyfriend, vloggers who are being exploited by a less-than-honorable management company, misdeeds by a corporation that would be out of business in a heartbeat should the facts become known and dastardly cover-ups at the highest levels. Meantime, Ruby and Zain must deal with emotionally draining personal issues of their own - issues that simultaneously bring them together and drive them apart. In fact, that's true of several of the characters here; not only are they so seriously flawed that it's hard to tell the baddies from the goodies, but they're so many in number that I had a tough time keeping them straight in my aging head.
As the plot moves along, the investigation sort of splits in two directions, one of which is resolved (with several twists and turns) and the other not so much. Also left hanging are those complicated issues Kate and Zain have been dealing with for years, making me suspect this book may be intended as the start of a series. Whether or not that's true, bloggers, vloggers, gamers and technology buffs should be happy with this one (for the record, count me in two of those categories). And if I'm correct about a series, count me as one who'll be happy to sample the next one.
Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan (Skyhorse Publishing, March 2017); 440 pp.