DI Ben Kitto needs a second chance. After 10 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 16-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.
"Gripping, clever and impossible to put down. I’ve been a Kate Rhodes fan for years and in Ben Kitto she has created a detective who is just as complex and compelling as Kate’s elegant plotting and stunning prose. The claustrophobia and paranoia of the island are so brilliant evoked, I could almost feel the tide encroaching as time ran out to find the killer." (Erin Kelly, author of He Said, She Said)
Hell Bay does for the Scilly Islands what Peter May's The Blackhouse did for the Outer Hebrides. A talented but conflicted detective returns to his remote rural roots and is plunged into a disturbing investigation involving many of the people he once called friends. The atmospheric evocation of the islands and the people that live there is a genuine triumph. While I never like to compare authors as everyone gets different things from each of them the feeling of being transported to a place that Kate Rhodes achieves here is reminiscent of May's efforts. It really is that good.
The plot twists and turns and while it never quite hits fever pitch it's very satisfying as DI Ben Kitto unravels the strands of paranoia that the conflicting evidence weaves around him. Stephen Perring does a fine job of the narration being clear, articulate and providing a good range of voices for the characters without resorting to caricature accents.
This book is definitely at its most impressive in bringing a remote island to life both in the warmly emotional intelligence used to draw the characters and the starkly beautiful yet cold-hearted nature of a small, remote island. I'd thoroughly recommend this if you like darkly atmospheric murder mysteries.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful
Firstly, I want to make clear I enjoyed this murder/mystery, and would recommend it.
However, I thought it could have been better in many ways. I notice other reviews have referenced Peter May's Hebridean trilogy as a comparison, so I will too - and i'd agree they're similar in many ways, however I think putting them on the same level would be wrong.
I feel Hell Bay lacks the depth and feeling that is apparent in May's books. The characters lack the personalities apparent in the Hebridean trilogy, and the story isn't quite as compelling. That said, the lead character (Ben Kitto) is quite a complex individual, and is similar in many ways to Finn Mcleod.
Listeners won't be left disappointed, but those (like me) that found Peter May's work truly exceptional will feel that Hell Bay lacks that special spark that would bring it to parity.
Similarly, I thought Stephen Perring performed well, but lacked that feeling and intensity that would have brought something special to the finished product. I think of Peter Forbes reading May's work, or Anton Lesser reading Phil Pullman and this doesn't reach that sort of level.
This review is probably overly critical, but when comparing to similar stories then it just doesn't quite get there...
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Had a fantastic two week holiday there some years ago, the book picks at my memories I loved it, Hell Bay in my humble opinion is best viewed on a wet windy day after a walk around the island, we stayed in a chalet opposite hangman’s rock and conveniently by the pub, all of this book picks away at the place wonderfully we hope to return one day.
Fantastic listen thank you.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful