Friday, 11 December 2015

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

review by Maryom
In January 1978, two girls went missing in Bampton, Derbyshire. One, Rachel Jones, was found later that same day; the other, Sophie Jenkins disappeared for ever.
Over thirty years have passed and Rachel has tried to put the whole incident behind her, but then Sophie's mother is found dead in the local hotel, and everything comes flooding back .......
 What starts out as an open and shut case for the Bampton police, headed by DI Francis Sadler, turns out to be something far more complex involving a web of secrets dating back to the abduction of 1978 and earlier. As the police try from one angle to work out how and why past events have suddenly surfaced again, Rachel realises that, from her point of view, it's time to confront what happened to her that long ago day. Her terror at the time wiped her memory clear, and her mother, thankful to have Rachel home, discouraged all discussion concerning what happened, but now Rachel realises she can't settle without knowing.
You can always spot a good book from your inability to put it down - and this is certainly one! I picked it up fairly late one evening, expecting just to read the opening chapters but midnight and one o'clock passed, and I was still reading ..... Eventually I did have to put it down but was back and hooked again the next day.
Something I particularly liked was that the detectives - Sadler, his sergeant Damian Palmer and constable Connie Childs -  follow the clues that I would have picked up on. Often, when reading whodunnits, I spot a snippet of information that I'd like the detective to pursue, but they don't! This time they did; they followed the leads I spotted, and at times headed off down the same dead-ends I would have. Even so, the denouement came as a surprise - I'd been hunting for the 'villain' in all the wrong places!
In short, In Bitter Chill is an amazingly tense and compelling debut, and I for one will be watching out for further thrillers from Sarah Ward.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Faber and Faber

Genre -adult fiction, debut, crime,

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