In Bitter Chill
by Sarah Ward
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.
When Yvonne Jenkins commits suicide, rachel Jones is tossed back to her childhood when herself and her friend were kidnapped. Rachel made it back while Sophie was never seen again. The case is re-opened and D.I. Francis Sadler and his colleagues D. S. Damian Palmer and D.C. Connie Childs are charged with finding the answers.
Although the book is part police procedural, it is mainly Rachel’s story and it is such an interesting and complex story. As a character she is beautifully drawn. She is a genealogist and her past melds with her present turning her life upside down. Rachel needs to know what happened back in 1978.
Rural Derbyshire is a character in itself; the wild bleakness combined with the bitter chill of Winter really brings the setting to life.
I found this a really assured debut novel. I enjoyed the characters who were all fully-rounded and felt real. The detectives had enough of a personal life to bring them to life but not too much that it was a distraction from the main story. D.C. Sadler and D.C. Childs complimented each other well, their different personalities suiting each other.
The story was well-paced with plenty of twists and turns along the way and a complexity that made you think.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am looking forward to A Deadly Thaw, the second novel to feature Francis Sadler and Connie Childs, which is out in paperback on 2nd Feb 2017