Monday, September 28, 2015

In Bitter Chill - Sarah Ward

In Bitter Chill
Sarah Ward
Minotaur Books, Sep 29 2015, $25.99
ISBN: 9781250069177

In 1978 Derbyshire, eight year old girls Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins walk to school when someone abducts them.  A few hours after the tweeners were snatched, Rachel is found alive in the nearby woods.  The kidnapper escaped and the other victim Sophie remained missing.

For the next three decades Sophie’s depressed mom Yvonne grieved her loss but always prayed for the safe return of her daughter until now when she abruptly commits suicide.  Deeply troubled by Yvonne’s death, Detective Inspector Francis Sadler wants to know what really triggered the mom to kill herself after suffering the loss for thirty years yet never gave up on her dream to hug her daughter.  DI Sadler assigns Detective Constable Connie Childs and her unit to relook the cold case.  They interview the reclusive survivor Rachel the genealogist, who insists she knows nothing.  When the strangled corpse of a teacher who taught at the kidnapped girls’ school in 1978 is uncovered, the cops and Rachel believe the perp is tying up loose ends.

This is an exciting British police procedural (and amateur sleuth) starring a solid cast who bring insight into women’s issues in the workforce and in the Peak District three decades apart.  Although readers will know the identity of the villain relatively early, thereby somewhat abating the cat and mouse tension; In Bitter Chill is a thrilling opening act.

Harriet Klausner

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