Commuter Reads: The Way You Look Tonight – Richard Madeley

You might have seen my not so favourable review of Judy Finnigan’s book last week, I have to say I enjoyed her husband’s book far more. Although, ignore the ridiculous cover art, I have no idea how that actually relates to the content of the story!

Of course, [SPOILERS]

Set in the 1960s, The Way You Look Tonight follows Stella Arnold, something of a psychology Cambridge graduate genius, as she finds herself swept into the glamour of American life where she mingles with the likes of JFK and soon finds herself recruited by the man himself to use her knowledge of the criminal mind to track down a serial killer.

Madeley’s story felt a lot more fast-paced in terms of historical markers and the presence of politics. Plus my love of crime thrillers, psychological killers and a bit of gruesome detail meant this book was far more my cup of tea.

The differing perspectives between Stella trying to identify the killer, and the perspective of the killer himself, made the story far more captivating, particularly in reading the killer’s unsettling motives and psychology for killing young girls the way he does. Stella teams up with local cops, inevitably drawing the sexist distain of her male colleagues when they discover they are working with a female barely into her twenties. However, she proves her worth with each step and identifying characteristic that she attributes to the killer, which helps them close in on him.

The only bit of the book that really infuriated me was the seemingly inevitable underlying romance plot. Stella and lead-investigator on the case,  Lee, are initially at loggerheads at the thought of working together. They inevitably, and unrealistically quickly, fall for each other, and in the space of working together for around a week or so, declare their love for each other. Then despite Stella having been an enjoyably independent female protagonist, she finds herself having to be saved by Lee from the killer in the end and is left somewhat hysterical and psychologically traumatised. So what the book does for undoing sexist stereotypes in the 1960s, is undone by the unnecessary ‘knight-in-shining-armour’ ending. Frustrating, in my opinion.

Nevertheless, for an enjoyable and fairly easy-going read, I would recommend this book. It’s particularly suited as some good holiday reading material.

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