Tuesday 22 October 2019

Why we are only 'One Click' away from online stalking

Crime: One Click, Andrea Mara, Poolbeg Crimson, €14.99

One Click by Andrea Mara
One Click by Andrea Mara

Margaret Carragher

With cyberstalking its central theme, Andrea Mara's aptly titled novel couldn't be more chillingly prescient. As a social media fiend, with a passion for photography, Lauren regularly shares her interest online.

While uploading holiday snaps she impulsively includes one of a random girl on an Italian beach, and thinks no more about it until she gets a tweet demanding to know the identity of the girl in the photo.

Having been trolled in the past, Lauren promptly hits the 'block' option. But, with a new profile and username, the troll comes right back; and for all her tech-savvy, Lauren realises that blocking doesn't work. Nor does deleting the offending photo.

Then Lauren chances upon the girl in the photo - a Dublin-based American called Cleo Holloway - and admits to her ill-judged post. Back home in Dublin the trolling continues with tweets referring to Lauren's children by name and indicating that her every move is being watched.

Meanwhile, having recently fled New York following a brutal assault by her then boyfriend, Cleo Holloway has her own suspicions about the identity and motivation of Lauren's troll. But, as the tweets and emails grow increasingly sinister, it seems the cyberstalker is on a deadly mission. And closer to home than anyone could imagine...

Mara's crime thriller debut The Other Side of the Wall was shortlisted for the Kate O'Brien Award in 2018.

Her latest offering will doubtless embellish her reputation as a grip-lit author of note, as well as sending readers scrambling for their online privacy settings.

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