Binary Witness by Rosie Claverton #BookReview #BlogTour

Book One of the Amy Lane mystery series 

A young woman trapped by her fear. 
A serial killer on the prowl. 
A woman locked in a darkened flat. 
An ex-con hiding from a vengeful gang. 

As clubbers in Cardiff are targeted by a brutal murderer, the police turn to unconventional means to catch the killer. Amy Lane, a desperately agoraphobic grey-hat hacker, only at peace with her fingers on a keyboard and her eyes on a screen, can peek into virtual corners in ways DI Bryn Hesketh would rather not know about. But he needs her skills, and turns to her for help. Jason, an ex-con looking to go straight, starts as Amy’s cleaner, but soon becomes much more. 

An entirely new edition of the first thrilling story in Rosie Claverton’s stunning Amy Lane mystery series, available in paperback and audiobook for the first time. 

I'm absolutely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the re-publication of Binary Witness and Code Runner, the first two books in the Amy Lane series. These new editions are available for the first time in paperback and are published by Crime Scene Books alongside the next two books in the series (Captcha Thief and Terror 404). Many thanks to the author, publishers and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my ecopy of the novel.
Binary Witness introduces a new crime fighting partnership, one that is refreshingly different and I believe has the potential to form a long running series. Although the series takes just Amy Lane's name, Jason Carr is equally important to the drama. He is newly released from prison and realising that his job prospects are limited, accepts a position with a cleaning company. His new role introduces him to Amy, an agoraphobic hacker who lives in squalor and loses hours to the screen and keyboard. It soon transpires that her skills have come to the notice of the police and having already helped them with some minor cases, she is now called upon to assist with an investigation into two missing girls. Jason is stunned to discover that the police call on this vulnerable and strange young woman but swiftly realises just what she is capable of as her knowledge turns out to be invaluable what turns out to be a complex case.
As the missing person investigation quickly turns into hunt for a murderer, the relationship between Amy and Jason develops from mutual suspicion to a tender friendship. Although on paper very different - Amy is unable to leave her home, is crippled by her anxiety and bouts of a deeper depression while Jason is an act first, think later sort of person who misses the adrenaline of his old life but is determined to make a fresh start - they are both societal misfits who need to find their place in a world which looks on them with scorn or pity. Jason discovers he wants to nurture Amy and as she learns to trust him, so he begins to gain a sense of self-worth again.
The mystery itself is gripping and I really enjoyed the contemporary feel to the book, from Amy's use of the data trails most of us inadvertently leave behind us these days through to the clubbing culture of Cardiff's student population to the pop culture chapter titles which are often taken from songs, films and plays. However, although the hunt for the killer is tense and features some disturbing scenes written from the perspective of the murderer, it's really the two flawed protagonists who most engaged me and kept me wanting to know more. Amy's mental health is sensitively explored and her lapses into depression or her panic attacks are painfully realistic which means they never feel exploitative. Amy is dysfunctional according to society's rules and yet she is still portrayed as a strong young woman who has some impressive skills that prove vital in the race to discover who is targeting the young women of Cardiff. Meanwhile, Jason's story is only too believable; there's no whitewashing of his past misdemeanours here, he was guilty of the crime he went to prison for and now he has to fight for his fresh start but it seems like everybody - the police, his mum, people from his old life - are all waiting for him to fail. His story may seem the less sympathetic initially but as is gradually revealed these are two people who both have secrets in their lives and have perhaps both been trapped in different ways.
Binary Witness probably requires a little suspension of belief - I'm not really sure if the police would ask a clearly damaged young woman - and a known hacker - to assist with the hunt for a deranged serial killer and I'm certain that an ex-con wouldn't be given anywhere near the access Jason manages. However, the engrossing and enjoyable story with its intriguing plot, creepy antagonist, two genuinely interesting main characters and a well-developed secondary cast, means any cynicism should be put aside. I'm looking forward to discovering more about Amy and Jason's pasts, Rosie Claverton has clearly (and cleverly!) kept something back for future books and I'm fascinated to see how their relationship continues to develop over time. Binary Witness does exactly what the first book in a series should do - it has an exciting plot which means it's a satisfying read in its own right but it also introduces compelling characters you want to know more about. Tense, intelligent and empathic, Rosie Claverton's debut is a fresh and engaging thriller.

I'm now really looking forward to reading Code Runner and am grateful to Crime Scene Books for providing me with the ebook so I can discover what's in store for Amy and Jason soon. Judging from the description, it doesn't look like life is going to become any simpler for the pair!

 Agoraphobic grey-hat hacker Amy Lane and her sidekick ex-con Jason Carr make a formidable crimefighting team, but when Jason can’t resist investigating a body washed up on a beach, the duo find themselves are in over their heads in a world of drug-smuggling, conspiracy and cyber crime. 
When Jason is framed for murder, Amy feels her life crumbling around her. She’s the only one who can prove his innocence and when his time in prison threatens to claim his life, she knows she has to solve the case fast. Can Amy rescue Jason? At what cost? 
This entirely new edition of the second thrilling adventure in Rosie Claverton’s stunning Amy Lane mystery series comes with the BONUS AMY LANE STORY Car Hacker. 

All the books in the Amy Lane series can be purchased here. Don't forget to check out the previous stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

 Rosie Claverton grew up in Devon, daughter to a Sri Lankan father and a Norfolk mother, surrounded by folk mythology and surly sheep. She moved to Cardiff to study Medicine and adopted Wales as her home. She then moved to London to specialise in psychiatry. Her Cardiff-based crime series The Amy Lane Mysteries debuted in 2014. Her first short film Dragon Chasers aired on BBC Wales in Autumn 2012. She co-created the ground-breaking series of short films The Underwater Realm. Between writing and medicine, she blogs about psychiatry and psychology for writers in her Freudian Script series, advocating for accurate and sensitive portrayals of people with mental health problems in fiction. She is the co-founder of Crime Cymru, a collective of Welsh crime writers. Returned to her beloved Cardiff, she lives with her journalist husband and brand new daughter. 
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