Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins's mother commits suicide.Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.
I'm really excited to welcome you to the BLOG TOUR for In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward.
Originally published by Faber in hardback in July of this year, and now available in paperback; published 5 November 2015.
I met Sarah Ward quite a few years ago, at the launch of Constable & Robinson's CR Crime imprint. Sarah has a really fascinating and very successful blog www.crimepieces.com where she reviews crime fiction from around the world.
I am thrilled by the success of her debut novel In Bitter Chill, and was honoured to be a guest when the book was launched on a very very hot day during the summer.
In Bitter Chill really is a fantastic crime novel and links recent deaths in the Derbyshire town of Brampton to an unsolved case dating back to the late 1970s. Rachel Jones lives quietly in Brampton, she's single, a little overweight and although she's quiet and fairly subdued, everyone in the town knows who she is. Rachel is the girl who returned. Her friend Sophie was the girl who stayed missing.
The death of Sophie's mother, all these years later, quickly followed by the murder of a retired school teacher brings Rachel and her past to the forefront of this small town's attention. The links are there and the police officers working on the case are convinced that the kidnapping of Rachel and Sophie all those years ago have a lot relevance to these new investigations.
Sarah Ward has written a complex and multi layered crime story that is totally convincing. There is an almost old-fashioned feel to this novel, and I mean that in a completely complimentary way. The fine detail of the police procedural; the finesse of the joining together of the two cases; the tense plot and the robust characters are all there, and it's pretty difficult to believe that In Bitter Chill is a debut. It's beautifully paced and pitch perfect.
The pace and tension heighten as the novel concludes and for me, the beauty is that I had no idea where this was going, the reveal both shocked and impressed me.
An absolute joy to read, this is crime fiction at it's best.
Sarah Ward is an online book reviewer whose blog, Crimepieces (www.crimepieces.com), reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world.
She has also reviewed fro Euro Crime and CrimeSquad.
She is a judge for the Petrona Award for Scandinavian translated crime novels.
She lives in Derbyshire
Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahward1