3 October 2015

Review: IN BITTER CHILL, Sarah Ward

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 484 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Crime; Main edition (June 30, 2015)
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
Synopsis  (Amazon)

Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins's mother commits suicide.

Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.

This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.

My take

Stories of child abductions strike a frisson of fear into the heart of every parent.

In this case two little girls  are abducted and one turns up a few hours later with little idea of where she has been and what happened. The survivor, Rachel Jones, has fragmented memories that make little sense to her: glossy green leaves, a black door, a tall man, a woman wearing sunglasses in December. There are things that Rachel never tells anybody, mainly because they make no sense to her. Sophie Jenkins' mother never stops looking and hoping.

Until she turns up dead in the Wilton Hotel, over thirty years after the date of the kidnapping. Superintendent Llewellyn was a PC back then and remembers being assigned to going on the house to house search for the children. He is convinced that the original investigative team was thorough, left no stone unturned, and he doesn't want the current team going over the same ground. At the same time bringing fresh eyes to bear may pick up something the original team missed. And they need to find out what prompted Yvonne Jenkins to kill herself after all this time.

Two days later there is another body, this time found in the very woods where Rachel Jones was discovered.

The main investigative team consists of DI Francis Sadler, DC Connie Childs and DS Damian Palmer. The dynamics of the team are interesting, in particular with Childs and Palmer competing for prime spot in Sadler's eyes.

The story is carefully plotted and turned out to be a lot more complex than I had at first thought. From about mid way I found myself hazarding various resolutions and it kept me guessing almost to the end.

This is a terrific debut novel, written with great assurance of style.

See another review at Reactions to Reading

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Sarah Ward is an online crime fiction reviewer at Crimepieces. She is also a judge for the Petrona Award for translated Scandinavian crime fiction. Her debut novel, set in Derbyshire, In Bitter Chill was published in July 2015 by Faber and Faber.


samantha.1020 said...

This sounds super good and I can't wait to read it for myself. Great review!

Kay said...

Definitely sounds like a winner. Planning to read it before long. Can't wait.


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