Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: I Came to Find a Girl by Jaq Hazell

Genre: Psychological thriller


A complex game of cat and mouse in the seedy streets of Nottingham ends in death. Young artist Mia Jackson is compelled to watch the posthumous video diaries of Jack Flood – controversial bad boy of the London art world and convicted serial killer. Can Mia allow Drake Gallery to show Aftermath in their retrospective of his work? Muse or victim, why was she allowed to survive?


Shortlisted for the Jane Austen Short Story Award and The Virginia Prize for Fiction, British author Jaq Hazell writes crime fiction and contemporary short stories for adults, as well as children's fiction and YA. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. Born near Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, her first full-time job was at Buckingham Palace. She has also worked as a humorous greetings cards designer and a journalist. She lives in London.
For more information please visit her website.


I Came To Find A Girl is one of the best stories I’ve read for Books & Pals, and when you consider I’ve reviewed 100+ and sampled at least six times that many titles, you’ll understand that is a substantial compliment to the author. Finding unique stories like this is what keeps me reading indie works.

The writing was light and crisp with terrific imagery. How’s this for a keen observation in a night club full of “beautiful people?”--“Boys with shaved heads and sharp suits stood in a Reservoir Dogs group while a Jesus lookalike in an artfully torn T-shirt popped something in his mouth.” The prose flowed. The dialogue was clipped and realistic. And the pages kept turning. The author owes me some sleep.

Large portions of the story were shown through the lens of a camera being used to record a documentary film. This unusual technique took a little getting used to, but it proved an effective and efficient way to cover a lot of ground, both physically (because the film was shot in short segments at different locations) and also emotionally, as the person holding the camera, Jack Flood, was a main character, and the movie he was making became a key part of the plot.

The main character, Mia, was a struggling art student heading into her final year and working as a waitress to cover her expenses. She and her friends were so real to me they jumped off the page.

There was an underlying mystery threaded through the book, but it never dominated the plot. Sure, I wanted to know “who done it?” but the journey was satisfying enough that it didn’t need a big reveal. I was disappointed when I turned the last page. Not because the story didn’t feel complete—it did--I just didn’t want it to end.

Highly recommended!

Buy now from:      Amazon US      Amazon UK


English spelling. English settings. Mostly these will be no problem for an American reader with the exception of a small piece of rhyming slang which made me smile. When someone is “Hank Marvin” it means they are “Starving” (hungry).

Format/Typo Issues:


Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words