Tuesday 6 March 2018

Five Parks by Ross McGuinness @McGuinnessRoss #FiveParks

Five Parks. Five blind dates. Five potential kidnappers. No escape. After breaking off her engagement with Michael, Suzanne is still looking for The One. Bored with her freelancing job, she decides to take matters of both work and love into her own hands and Five Parks is born. She starts a blog, offering five prospective suitors a chance of one of five dates in five London parks. Suzanne’s blog goes viral, amassing a huge following and even getting a column in a daily newspaper. But after the fifth date – which she has no memory of - Suzanne wakes up shackled to a bed in a windowless room. The only items with her are a table, a chair and a laptop. And an instruction from her captor: Keep Writing.

Five Parks by Ross McGuinness was published by Endeavour Press in August last year. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

Phew! Five Parks is a heart-stopping, intriguing, often disturbing and always challenging read. I have to admit that there were times when I thought I'd stepped just a little too far out of my comfort zone, but there's something quite compelling about this author's voice. I kept reading, holding my breath and screwing up my nose on occasion, but I kept going!

Five Parks is clever and the author's journalistic experience shines through clearly, not just in the quality of his writing, but also through his knowledge of relevant issues.

Five Parks is the name of Suzanne's blog. The idea is pretty simple; Suzanne is newly single and is determined to find her ideal man. Five Parks will follow her quest. She's offering five dates in five parks in London, to five men, and she's going to blog about her experiences.

Five Parks really takes off, with thousands of followers waiting eagerly for Suzanne's next instalment. And then, date five. Everything goes a bit pear shaped, and Suzanne remembers nothing when she wakes up.  Tied and bound to a bed in a room in an unknown building. Her captor has left a laptop in the room and told her to keep writing.

I'll admit that there were times when I found this so uncomfortable to read, but this author cleverly incorporates some dry and dark humour into the story which soon settled me again. It's dark and it's very clever, with characters who are threatening and ominous. Don't for one moment imagine that you have it sussed out, that you know just who the captor is, believe me, you will be wrong.

Five Parks is story that twists and turns constantly, throwing up ideas to the reader that lead you down one track, only to find one great big concrete wall blocking your way, and making you scuttle around until the next surprise.

Ross McGuinness has his finger firmly on the pulse of the digital age. It's murky and not always pleasant as most of us will have discovered at time during our surfing sessions. However, most of us can't stay away and Five Parks is just like that; dark, dangerous and with surprises around every corner, but strangely compelling and addictive at the same time.

Ross McGuinness is a journalist. 
He has written for Metro, Yahoo, The Guardian and the BBC. 
He lives in London. 
He can be found on Twitter at @McGuinnessRoss.

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