Hell Bay Kate Rhodes

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The phrase saves the best till last springs to mind when I start this review. This year I have read some great books; but as its December I can safely say that one of the best has been one of the last of the year.

“Hell Bay” by Kate Rhodes is a cracking read. The story is set on Bryher, one of the smallest of the Scilly Isles, just of the Cornish coast and only accessible by boat.

The stories main protagonist is DI Kitto Benesek, a Met undercover detective from the Murder Investigation Team, he is returning to his home island to get himself together following the death of his partner. The last thing he needs is a murder amongst the closely-knit residents of the island. An island with only 98 residents, nearly all of who he knows.

But that is what he gets when on the night he returns a young girl goes missing. Drafted in by the local Police Kitto heads an investigation into her disappearance.

From the start the reader knows she has been killed but by who. The characters on the island are rich and colourful, and not one of them seems to have a reason to kill her.

There are two added twists to the plot that might relate to the murder. One of the residents is trying to buy out the poorer residents to develop the island, he is making no friends with his strong-arm tactics but would he stretch to murder. Then there is the modern-day smuggling ring that is dropping drugs onto the beaches to be picked up and distributed on the mainland; did she stumble across one of the transactions, or could she be part of the smuggling ring.

The book uses the isolation of the island to build the tension. The characters are typical of a small English town, but are hemmed in buy the Atlantic.

Kitto has been away from the island for a long time only returning for his parent’s funerals. His friends have grown, new relationships have been formed but basically not much has changed.

Kitto is used to the violence of the capital but dealing with it on his own island amongst his friends and family is hard. How can he not have preconceptions.

This book longer than most books being published at the moment but every chapter had me reading the next in quick succession. I can’t say I read it in one sitting, but I read it at every opportunity, and hated having to put it down when work intervened.

Thankfully the last few pages are a preview of the next book in the series so I know there’s another coming. Now I just have to sit and wait.

Pages: 432

Publishers: Simon & Schuster

Publishing date: 25th January 2017.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

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Anatomy of a Scandal Sarah Vaughan

 

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Just to deviate from my usual reading I was looking for a Political, or Court, Drama. Anatomy of a Scandal came up in the Amazon search engine when I put both categories in so I thought I’d give it ago, even if it did say “female fiction” as the main category.

Well either I’m in touch with my feminine side or they have the category wrong. I found this to be a thoroughly engrossing read.

The synopsis for the story reads like it should be from a tabloid news front page, but it is written with the panache of a broad sheet.

James Whitehouse is a high profile Conservative MP, a cabinet minister, and a very good friend of the Prime Minister. They have been friends from school and were members of the Libertines at Oxford University.

The story starts with Sophie Whitehouse, his wife, waiting at home for her husband who is uncharacteristically late and out of contact. When he walks through the door he looks worried; and he should be, he’s just about to tell his wife he has been having an affair with a pretty young researcher, and that the press has got hold of the story.

Could it get any worse?

Oh yes!

The researcher Olivia Lytton accuses James of rape and he is arrested, and the case goes to court in a high-profile media circus of a hearing.

Sophie decides to stand by her man; but does she believe him.

Kate Woodcroft QC the CPS prosecution Barrister is convinced James is guilty and is prepared to do almost anything, within the law, to see him found guilty.

The story concentrates on the Court hearing whilst flashing back to James and Sophie’s University days and the shenanigans of the Libertines. Will this history show why Sophie is so adamant that James is innocent, or explain why she wants to stand by him? Will it show why Kate is so determined get a guilty verdict.

There are places in this book, where Sarah Vaughan described places and people very deeply, that I have to admit to speed reading or skipping text as; but the story is outstanding.

Throughout the book I found myself taking sides, then changing my opinion. If I had been on the Jury I might have had a hard time reaching a verdict…..at times.

By the end of the book my allegiances were firmly on one side, but I dare say people will have different opinions.

I am so glad I decided to look at a different genre of book.

Pages: 400

Publishers: Simon & Schuster UK

Publishing date:  11 January 2018

Available to pre-order on Amazon