In Bitter Chill

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In Bitter Chill

Inspector Francis Sadler, #1

This is one of the most impressive debut novels I have read all year!

In 1978 Rachel and Sophie are kidnapped while walking to school. Rachel survives and is returned home, while Sophie was never seen or heard from again. Rachel was never able to remember what happened that day, but now Sophie's mom has been found dead of an apparent suicide, and one of the teachers at the girls school has been murdered, sparking vague memories for Rachel and a determination to find out what happened to her and Sophie all those years ago.

Working the murder case is Inspector Sadler and DC Connie Childs, both of whom are curious personalities, but have a unique chemistry between them. But, Rachel Jones ends up stealing the show as the young woman whose life has been defined by her kidnapping. Her job as a genealogist plays an interesting part in the story and is more than a little ironic.

Setting the story up in the small community of Derbyshire in the midst of winter, cast a gloomy atmospheric backdrop for this mystery, loaded with dark secrets and family dramas that have been buried just underneath the surface for all these years, just waiting for someone to take a hard look and finally expose the whole sordid mess. But, someone seems mighty determined to keep those secrets buried, which makes Rachel's inquiries rather dangerous.

I love British mysteries, cold cases, and dark family secrets, so this book is just my kind of read. There is nothing here, however, that follows the familiar police procedural formula. In fact, the story sucked me in very quietly, hypnotically pulling me into the tangled web so expertly and intricately woven over time. I was so utterly absorbed in this story, I was shocked to discover I had nearly read the entire book in one sitting!

The plot is very cleverly crafted and the writing is simply spellbinding. The pacing is spot on, and the story relies, not on shootouts, explosions, car chases, or grisly forensic details, but instead, forces the reader to concentrate on fascinating and connecting details, dialogue, and curious revelations in order to piece together the true story. I absolutely loved it!

I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers. 4.5 stars


Book Blurb for In Bitter Chill

The deepest secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves in this richly atmospheric, compellingly written, and expertly constructed crime debut from an emerging talent.

Derbyshire, 1978: a small town in the idyllic English countryside is traumatized by the kidnapping of two young schoolgirls, Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins. Within hours, Rachel is found wandering alone near the roadside, unharmed yet unable to remember anything, except that her abductor was a woman. No trace of Sophie is ever discovered.

Present day: over thirty years later, Sophie's mother commits suicide. Detective inspector Francis Sadler and detective constable Connie Childs are assigned to look at the kidnapping again to see if modern police methods can discover something that the original team missed. Rachel, with the help of her formidable mother and grandmother, recovered from the kidnapping and has become a family genealogist. She wants nothing more than to continue living quietly beneath the radar, but the discovery of the strangled body of one of her former teachers days after the suicide brings the national media back to her doorstep. Desperate to stop a modern killer from striking again, Rachel and the police must unpick the clues to uncover what really happened all those years ago as the past threatens to engulf the present.


Night Owl Reviews Dec, 2015 4.50