‘Can Anybody Help Me?’ is Sinead Crowley’s debut novel.
Struggling with a new baby, Yvonne turns to netmammy, an online forum for mothers, for support. Drawn into a world of new friends, she spends increasing amounts of time online and volunteers more and more information about herself.
When one of her new friends goes offline, Yvonne thinks something is wrong, but dismisses her fears. After all, does she really know this woman?
But when the body of a young woman with striking similarities to Yvonne’s missing friend is found, Yvonne realises that they’re all in terrifying danger. Can she persuade Sergeant Claire Boyle, herself about to go on maternity leave, to take her fears seriously?
As a debut, this book is an extremely good one. Dark from the beginning, it drags you deep into a world where the unknown is king and naivety is abused. Set in Dublin, the story follows a group of women who find companionship and support on a website called ‘NetMammy’. On the website, they offer advice to new-born and firstborn mothers, they create friendships in a world where they feel safe and secure unaware that there is a killer amongst preying on their vulnerability.
The story is primarily seen from the perspective of Yvonne, a first time mother who is finding is all a bit daunting and finds solace in the website, forming friendships and advice. Until one day, she notices a slip up in a conversation and begins to suspect that one of the mothers of the website is the victim of a murder but her concerns go unnoticed. Meanwhile Sergeant Claire Boyle is having her first baby and is finding it hard to slow down. Caught up in the midst of murders of that are disguised as suicides, she also thinks that there is suspicious something going and weren’t quit until she finds the murderer, no matter how much her husband Matt nags.
This is quite an compelling read filled with twists that I didn’t see coming. At one point I did think I had guessed the identity of the killer but was delighted to discover that I was wrong. I’ve always thought that a good thriller is when you get the get the killer wrong and Sinead has definitely done that with her first book. I fully enjoyed this book and spent my weekend engrossed in the crime thriller. As the book is set in Ireland, I particularly enjoyed the dialogue of the characters, with their gentle flow of words and localisms that I felt familiar with. I also liked Sinead’s style of writing, it moved at a nice speed with a bleakness throughout that portrayed the underlaying tension that filled the book.
With a strong storyline that is current, such as the trends of social media and the popularity of forum websites and internet safety. It highlights how easy it is to fall victim to false identities, who pretend to be someone else to lure less vulnerable people into security.
A gripping and knuckle biting story that is worryingly realistic and injects deep fear into the readers, ‘Can Anybody Help Me?’ is a cleverly written and tension filled novel that goes to a very dark place particularly with with a unexpected ending that will stay with you long after you finished the last page.
You can buy Can Anybody Help Me? from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.