I’d previously read all of the Alice Quentin novels by Kate Rhodes, so when I saw a new character series set by the sea, I was in! I bought ‘Hell Bay’ when it was published in 2018 and put it on my shelf… sooo, the confession is, it sat there until this week. The constant TBR dilemma was the culprit and not the book – I love the cover and the blurb “Everyone on the island is under suspicion. Dark secrets are about to resurface. And the murderer could strike at any time”. This new book series is based in the Isles of Scilly, predominantly Bryher, where our principal character DI Ben Kitto was born and where he has returned to to recuperate after a traumatic event back in London. However, upon his arrival a local teenager is reported missing and soon Ben’s plan’s drastically change as he joins in the investigation.
I really enjoyed the detailed and evenly paced development of this book, particularly how the landscape is also pulled in as another ‘character’. I’ve never visited the Isles of Scilly, but would love to. Bryher is a small island of contrast, one side meets the tempestuous Atlantic ocean head on, but the other side is sheltered with calm sandy beaches. There is a luxurious Hell Bay hotel, small shops, like The Bryher Shop selling local produce, farm eggs, fresh sea food and island fudge and two local boatyards. All these real elements are richly bought to life by Rhodes with a wonderful cast of colourful characters, and we in turn have a dramatic, dark crime novel.
What follows is Ben returning to police work and using his experience as a Murder Team inspector to hunt down the killer on Bryher. As he begins to reacquaint himself with the local community, he finds there are many secrets hidden from him and his past friendships are under question. Could someone he knows be an aggressive killer? Is his own life in danger? This is a great study of a small, isolated close-knit community with many secrets to hide built around an engaging murder mystery.
I would definitely recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more of this series. Many thanks to Kate Rhodes for creating it and for Shadow, who I already love and can’t wait to catch up with again!