Title: Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 440 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
Ruby Day is a young vlogger, a rising star of YouTube, and a wholesome role-model to millions of teenage girls. And she is missing. Detective Inspector Kate Riley, the head of a new high-powered team of detectives, and Detective Superintendent Zain Harris, the newest member of the team and a poster boy for multiracial policing, are brought in for what they expect to be a routine runaway. Then a video of a wild-eyed Ruby running through the woods and begging for her life is posted online. Amid mounting hysteria and heightened media coverage calling for Ruby’s safe return, Riley and Harris must decode the dark secrets of this seemingly squeaky-clean internet darling. Their hunt leads them to a smug ex-boyfriend who hungers for online fame of his own, a culture of online cyber bullying by anonymous thugs, and a corporation of ruthless advertisers who exploit online celebrities for their network of eager consumers. It becomes increasingly clear that the case is more complicated and nightmarish than Riley and Harris could have imagined. And the videos keep coming . . .
This debut novel is a slick, contemporary police procedural that explores the dichotomy of public life and one lived online. For fans of Megan Abbot and Kimberly McCreight, Cut to the Bone provides a harrowing glimpse into the friendships, ambitions, and secrets of the internet generation.
In Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan, a missing person’s case quickly takes a few unexpected twists and turns as Detective Chief Inspector Kate Riley and her second in command Detective Sergeant Zain Harris search for young vlogger Ruby Day who has disappeared.
Both Kate and Zain are a little confused at how quickly their boss, Police Crime Commissioner Justin Hope, calls on them to investigate Ruby’s disappearance but they push aside their misgivings and begin their search for her. Kate begins with Ruby’s parents who are visibly distraught but she gets the feeling they are not telling her everything. They point the finger at Ruby’s gamer/vlogger boyfriend Dan Grant who has a bit of a nasty history and during his interview, he is less than forthcoming. When a shocking video of Ruby is sent to her parents, Kate and Zain know time is of the essence in locating Ruby and they intensify their search. When another video is posted, they fear the worst and another member of their team uncovers the first solid bit information that could lead them to Ruby. Will Kate, Zain and the rest of the team locate Ruby before the kidnapper strikes again?
The investigation into Ruby’s disappearance takes Kate, Zain and a variety of investigators into the world of vlogging (video blogs). Ruby has amassed quite the following in her career and along with her boyfriend Dan, they are the sweethearts of the vlogosphere. However, Ruby’s parents are not a fan of Dan and in fact, they are adamant he is involved with her disappearance. Their accounts of his possessive behavior and an violent incident involving Dan and another young woman certainly lend credence to their suspicions but will Kate and Zain find any proof he is involved in Ruby’s apparent kidnapping?
Kate and Zain’s interview with Dan does provide helpful information about MINDNET, the company that both Dan and Ruby have been working with to gain maximum exposure for their vlogs. They cannot uncover any evidence that MINDNET is involved in anything illegal, but they do think CEO Jed Byrne is just a little too slick. Their investigation into his business dealings with Ruby do reveal a few inconsistencies with the information he provided, and although they are unable to link him to her disappearance, Jed remains on their list of possible suspects.
Kate and Zain are very interesting characters with intriguing and complicated backstories. It takes a good portion of the novel for the details of their respective pasts to be revealed and this slow parceling of information is a little confusing for readers since it feels like they are missing vital information about the main characters. Kate and Zain are both very damaged by past events and while Kate seems able to compartmentalize her life, Zain’s issues are not quite so easy to leave behind. He comes very close to crossing the line several times and Kate is concerned Zain might do something to jeopardize the investigation.
Cut to the Bone is a fast-paced mystery that deals with very topical issues that will resonate with readers. Alex Caan supplies a variety of misdirects and red herrings that very effectively casts suspicion on a number of suspects who might have kidnapped Ruby. A very clever police procedural that is hopefully just the first of many novels starring the very intrepid crime fighting duo Kate Riley and Zain Harris.