As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Simon & Schuster, 12 July 2018. ISBN: 978-1-4711-6539-9 (HB)
Oxford, Midsomer, Shetland –
and now the Scilly Isles. Soon there won't be any beautiful places left in
Britain where it's safe to live.
Kate Rhodes has abandoned the
mainland and opted to maroon her new detective protagonist, DI Ben Kitto, on
the smallest inhabited island in the Scillies: a place she clearly knows well,
given the detail, both geographical and meteorological, in which she evokes it.
The island is Bryher, and it has just ninety-eight inhabitants.
Like his creator, Ben Kitto
knows the Scillies well; he was brought up on Bryher and left to join a crack
murder squad in London, where he's been for more than ten years. He's a damaged
soul, home to lick his wounds and recuperate from a personal tragedy, but his
chosen profession follows him and when a teenage girl goes missing he finds
himself appointed SIO with only an enthusiastic rookie DC to help him and a DCI
who seems determined to hinder.
When the girl's body is
found, Ben is forced to ask himself which of his relations and old school
friends is capable of cold-blooded murder. In a neat twist on the country house
murder trope, the murderer must be one of the ninety-eight members of Bryher's
population; no one else comes under suspicion since the weather hasn't allowed
any boats to land since before the dark deed was done.
Kate Rhodes's previous series
showed she was more than capable of creating a whole world between the covers
of her books. In Hell Bay, the first of a new series, she achieves that
and more. Ben Kitto rapidly emerges as a fully-fledged character, and by the
end of the book the people of Bryher were beginning to feel as real and varied
as my own friends and neighbours. There's a wonderful sense of place too; it
appears that between drug-running and dodgy generators, the Scillies aren't
halfway as idyllic as travel brochures would have you believe. And there's a
dog with his own distinct personality, and even a hint of romance.
The killer's identity, when
it's finally revealed, is both shocking and inevitable. The clues are all there
to be picked up, but Rhodes is a mistress of misdirection, so I challenge the
most hardened crime fiction reader to suss it out before Ben does.
As I closed the book, I had
mixed feelings. First and foremost, I felt satisfied that there's a new series
character whose fate I can now follow. But then I began to wonder where I can
safely book a holiday next year...
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Rhodes was born in London. She has a PhD in modern American
literature and has taught English at British and American universities. She
spent several years working in the southern states of America, first in Texas,
then at a liberal arts college in Florida. Kate’s first collection of poems Reversal
was published in 2005, her second collection, The Alice Trap was
published in 2008. The Guardian described her poems as “pared back and
fast-moving, the short lines full of an energetic lightness of touch”. Kate has
been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship, and her poems have been shortlisted and
won prizes in a number of competitions including the Bridport Prize and the
Forward Prize. Crossbones Yard was Kate’s first crime novel. Hell
Bay is the first of a new series featuring DI Ben Kitto. Kate is
currently writing full-time and lives in Cambridge with her husband Dave
Pescod, a writer and film maker.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.