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May Book Club Choice

Stop Me by Richard Jay Parker

Cover of Stop Me

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A dark and gripping thriller that explores the dark phenomena of Internet celebrity, e-relationships and online obsession.

Forward this email to ten friends
each of those friends must forward it to ten friends
maybe one of those friends of friends of friends will be one of my friends
if this email ends up in my inbox within a week I won’t slit the bitch’s throat
can you afford not to send this onto ten friends?
Vacation Killer

When Leo Sharpe's wife disappears, he fears she's become the latest victim of the Vacation Killer - a serial murderer who has claimed the lives of eleven others. Unlike the other victims, her body has never been found and his quest to find her turns to obsession. He soon finds himself engaging with a man called Bookwalter over the internet - a man who claims to be the Vacation Killer and claims to still have his wife - but who police have dismissed as a hoaxster. But what if they are wrong?

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Thanks to the Book Club readers at Sure Start MRM in Southampton for their questions and reviews of the book!

Suggested Discussion Points:

Author Q&A

Q. Who is your favourite author?
Sure Start Bookclub, Southampton

A. I don’t really have one as my reading tastes are so varied. One of my favourite thrillers was FALLING ANGEL by a writer named William Hjortsberg. They made it into the movie ANGEL HEART starring Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke.

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Q. Would you write in a different genre?

A. My early books weren’t thrillers so I guess I would. Am very happy writing thrillers for the moment though. They give me an opportunity to explore themes and subject matter within a popular genre.

Q. How did you come up with the title?

A. Came up with it in the early stages of writing. I usually use a working title when I’m writing but this one stuck. It’s obviously a reference to the SPAM email the Vacation Killer sends but to me it refers more to Leo allowing himself to be snared by somebody he knows he shouldn’t trust.

Q. Did you write from experience or research the isolation that the central character described?

A. As a writer you more or less live in isolation when you’re working on material but I hope that I never have to experience what Leo goes through. I can only guess at how a person’s life would be suspended when someone close vanishes without trace.

Q. Did you work out the timeline for events because the time for Laura and Leo's relationship to have developed into what is was when she went missing seems unrealistic?

A. Yes, everything was thoroughly worked out re dates. I think Leo and Laura’s relationship had time to blossom before they got married.

Q. Was the cover blurb written by RJP?

A. No. The back cover blurb was provided by the publisher. It’s so difficult to encapsulate a story in a few sentences and often it’s more important to hook a potential reader with some accessible and juicy details. I did suggest they use the email from the Vacation Killer as they did on the trade edition. I noticed that people seemed to respond very positively to it at early signings.

Q. How many years did you spend trying to get a book published?

A. About a decade but that was writing almost one a year for that period. It’s a learning curve!

Q. Is there a real bar called Chevalier’s?

A. Only in my head (as far as I know). I had a dream about it. It was one of those where you know a location within a dream inside out even though it doesn’t exist. The dream was more bizarre than what happens in STOP ME.

Q. Had you researched the settings before writing?

A. Had been to New Orleans for Mardis Gras a decade before I wrote STOP ME so the experience must have made a real impression on me. I thought the aftermath of Mardis Gras was a good place for Leo to find himself because it reflects the hangover from his old life that he’s living in.


Book Club Reviews

This star review was by Sue Wilcox of Sure Start Book Club, Southampton.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I also liked the red herrings to confuse the reader and the desperation of the main character (much more patient than I would be). Considering this is the author's first book I am looking forward to many more! Makes you think twice about not reading and just deleting spam emails. Even the book cover and blog on the book cover was deceiving about the real story, it would of not been my main choice due to that but once I started reading just could not put it down.Sue Wilcox, Sure Start Book Club, Southampton

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Loved it, really different read for me. Ending was a real twist.Mandi B, Sure Start Book Club, Southampton

Really enjoyed it Didn't guess the ending. Snappy.Gail P, Sure Start Book Club, Southampton

Very nice book to readDan J, Sure Start Book Club, Southampton

Good, enjoyed reading the bookPhilippa W, Sure Start Book Club

Real page turner, couldn't put it down, and had several late nights as a result, very satisfying end, and enjoyed the humour in it, and the website.Caroline P, Sure Start Book Club, Southampton

I finished the book in 6 days (which is a record for me). Stop Me is one of the most gripping novels I have ever read. I found it original, intriguing, and a real page turner, filled with many twists and turns. I was hooked. Excellently written. Brilliant - loved it all.Marcia Stachini, Sure Start Book Club, Southamption

Really enjoyed it, easy to read, good ending.Estelle G, Sure Start Book Club, Southampton

The first book from Richard Jay Parker. A really thrilling story! I read it in three days. The plot was quite new and had some surprising twists and a great finish. The figures are well drawn, especially Leo and Bookwalter. I enjoyed reading very much and am looking forward for the second one to come. 9/10.Washti, Germany

Howdy doody is a salutation that won't ever be the same for me after having read this thriller debut novel. There’s a riveting relatable opening to STOP ME, and e-mail which includes the following text:
Forward this email to ten friends... If this email ends up in my inbox within a week, I won’t slit the bitch’s throat. Can you afford not to send this on to ten friends? it’s all very contemporary/timely/fast-paced. And all too familiar, so much so that nowadays (in real life), because I am so used to spam, I immediately delete these upon receipt (I’d be like in the book). In our technological age (where everything can be known at the click of a mouse), it's easy to become indifferent to many things due to information overload.
Sidenote: There’s also about 10 people who make their (virtual, or not) appearance in the first two pages, which was impressive to me (without it being too confusing/complicated at all).
But if “the bitch” was someone that I knew – yup, that turns things right around. Which is the situation the lead character, Leo, finds himself in, “the chicken pox scar” being “one of the distinguishing features Leo had mentioned when he’d reported (his wife, Laura) missing.”
One thing I liked about this serial killer (I know a serial killer isn’t supposed to be “likable” per se, but as far as villains go...) was his transatlantic-ness (he has brought his murder from the US and into the UK). It gives a scope to his crazed modus operandi, and gives him/the book edge and an extra dimension.
All in all, I think this is a book that readers of contemporary fiction would enjoy – there’s also a refreshing lack of “shock value” (sex/glorified violence/all that crass commercial stuff) which this reader here appreciates!Jess C Scott, USA, USA


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