Publication: Available now in e-book and from 12 July in paperback from Simon & Schuster UK
DI Ben Kitto needs a second chance. After ten years working for the murder squad in London, a traumatic event has left him grief-stricken. He’s tried to resign from his job, but his boss has persuaded him to take three months to reconsider.
Ben plans to work in his uncle Ray’s boatyard, on the tiny Scilly island of Bryher where he was born, hoping to mend his shattered nerves. His plans go awry when the body of sixteen year old Laura Trescothick is found on the beach at Hell Bay. Her attacker must still be on the island because no ferries have sailed during a two-day storm.
Everyone on the island is under suspicion. Dark secrets are about to resurface. And the murderer could strike again at any time.
I have read some awesome books recently; books that are different, challenging and exciting. Reading Hell Bay felt like coming home, back to the kind of crime fiction that started my reading and which has kept me in love with the genre for more than 40 years.
Beautifully written, Kate Rhodes creates the sense of island life so well. An island mystery is a bit like a locked room crime, only with slightly more suspects and Rhodes uses this setting to her advantage, casting doubt and suspicion on pretty much every one of the islanders, whether they be the detective’s relatives or not.
And what a detective! I took to D.I.Ben Kitto at once. Of the islands, returned from his post as a detective in the Met to take time off in order to consider his options after a pretty traumatic event that occurred while he was on the job. He has come home; home to work out his feelings; home to see if he can get his head straight by undertaking hard physical labour in his uncle’s boatyard.
There are some dark and disturbing themes in Hell Bay, showing that island life is not immune from the same issues that impact on the mainland. Ben Kitto takes up the challenge when a teenage girl goes missing and working with a shiny new constable, Eddie, he and his fabulous wolfhound Shadow, set to work to find out what has happened.
Rhodes captures the island atmosphere with credibility and honesty; this is no romantic version of life, but a setting that can at once be wild and windswept and at the same time suffocating in its claustrophobia.
Characterisation is excellent, these are people you know and can visualise. Hell Bay is very well plotted with an interlayering of strands that lead the reader here there and everywhere until it is difficult to work out who is responsible and why. From family secrets to drug smuggling it is all here. But it all makes perfect sense in the end.
Hell Bay is the kind of book that reminds me why I love crime. Will I buy the next Ben Kitto novel? You bet I will!
About Kate Rhodes
Kate Rhodes is a full-time crime writer, living in Cambridge with her husband, a writer and film maker. Kate used to be an English teacher and has published two award winning collections of poetry. In 2015 she won the Ruth Rendell short story prize. Kate is the author of the acclaimed ALICE QUENTIN series, with the fifth book, BLOOD SYMMETRY published in 2016.
HELL BAY is the first novel in a new series, ,a crime novel set on the remote Cornish island of Bryher, featuring DI Ben Kitto.