Published 23 November 2014 by Curiosity Quills Press
Number of pages: 290
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ It was memorable
"Rachel, an 18-year-old Columbia University student, descends into the netherworld of runaways and predators to find her sister, Olivia, who has suddenly disappeared.
After getting a job in a strip joint where Olivia worked, then doing private shows in the homes of rich clients, Rachel discovers that Olivia has been abducted by a killer who auctions the deaths of young girls in an eBay of agony.
When she finds Olivia, Rachel becomes the killer’s next target."
In his second novel, Gustavo Florentin drags us at breakneck pace into the seedy underworld of paedophilia, prostitution and snuff films.
Olivia Wallen, an over-achieving 16 year old with Harvard in her sights, is in the hands of the "Webmaster", the latest object in his "eBay of agony". Her naked image is broadcast to bidders across the world who will determine which depraved tortures she will be subjected to, and then how she will die.
Rachel Wallen is 18 yrs old, a bright over-achiever and a Columbia student; she is also Olivia's sister.
"What can she do that the police can't do better?"
Rachel can think of at least two things... and so starts her journey into "the world that had swallowed Olivia". A world that, once it has a grip on her, just like with her sister, won't allow her to escape that easily - the Schwarzschild Radius.
The reader, just like Rachel, is left to wonder why a smart girl like Olivia, with a good life and great prospects ahead, would end up disappearing in New York, away from home, and tangled up in such a terrible business.
The author does provide a clear motivation for Rachel, and in part for Olivia, but I feel that it remains unclear why Olivia did not cut the ties and return to her normal life as soon as she had the opportunity (we are offered a very quick explanation, but it does not seem enough).
Florentin's writing style is fluid and he manages to make complex topics accessible to anyone. The story is full of suspense and I ended up reading the whole novel in one sitting - I simply had to turn the page to find out more!
The narration is made from the view points of the various characters that we meet and that end up merging in a breath-taking finale.
Although the subjects covered are very strong, they are approached sensitively and without any excessive or gratuitous gore. The story felt genuine and accurate, with just one minor gripe with regard to the lightening fast onset of ketoacidosis; the most imminent danger with type 1 diabetes is being too low (hypoglycemia) and swiftly ending up in a diabetic coma because you have been deprived of food or because you have injected too high a dose of insulin. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) would only become life-threatening after weeks of abuse. If someone who is diabetic is unwell, as a first aid, please give them glucose (think Lucozade), not insulin! - ideally use their testing kit and find out what is happening!
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who is into thrillers and crime fiction (adult audience only).
I am now looking forward to reading Mr Florentin's first book, the award winning, "In the Talons of the Condor"
[ARC received via Netgalley]