Publication Date: Available Now from Faber
Source: Publisher Review Copy
In 1978, a small town in Derbyshire, England is traumatised by the kidnapping of two young schoolgirls. One girl, Rachel, is later found unharmed but unable to remember anything except that her abductor was a woman.
Over thirty years later the mother of the still missing Sophie commits suicide. Superintendent Llewellyn, who was a young constable on the 1978 case, asks DI Francis Sadler and DC Connie Childs to look again at the kidnapping to see if modern police methods can discover something that the original team missed. However, Sadler is convinced that a more recent event triggered Yvonne Jenkins’s suicide.
“In Bitter Chill” is one of the type of novels I love when done really well, where the past invades the present and old secrets come to light – in the case of this, Sarah Ward’s debut – it was really beautifully atmospheric, with some well drawn characters and a terribly compelling story.
Mostly I identified with Rachel, she has a sharp edgy feel to her as a character, I connected to her emotionally very quickly. She also provided a fascinating theme running through the narrative – that of family tree, family background. Creating history for other people makes her consider her own, as current events take over the past watching how Rachel handles things is one of the more intriguing portions of the story as a whole.
Sarah Ward has managed to blend police prodedural, psychological thriller and family drama SO well here – there are elements of all of those things that make the tale utterly riveting throughout – developing the characters and the background to give a really authentic edge to the whole thing and she knows how to keep you reading. The reveal moments are cleverly placed, a real page turner.
One of the best things is it is all so completely believable. No suspension of disbelief required here, things unfold with perfect pacing, you get completely caught up in these peoples lives, there is a gorgeous emotional kick to proceedings that give you plenty to relate to and think about as you go.
Some really terrific writing, great use of language and a truly captivating story makes “In Bitter Chill” one of the standout debut’s that I’ve read so far this year.
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