Thursday, February 11, 2016

Book Review: In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

"In Bitter Chill" by Sarah Ward
First published in 2015
311 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

The Short Of It:

Fast-paced English murder mystery with writing that could use some improvement.

The Long Of It:
I had "In Bitter Chill" checked out from the library for two months (hangs head) and figured it was time to finally get this book returned. I wish I hadn't waited so long, because it turned out to be a super-quick read that I blew through in two days.

The plot isn't particularly unique -- a murder in a small Derbyshire town connects to an unsolved kidnapping from the '70s and leads to the unearthing of long-buried secrets -- but the story was intriguing and easy to read, and I turned pages at lightning pace.

Rachel Price and her friend Sophie were kidnapped on their walk to school in 1978. Rachel escaped from her captors -- with very little recollection of what had happened -- but Sophie never returned home and her body was never found. Rachel, now a family historian, has been struggling all her life to leave the foggy memories of her kidnapping in the past, but a present-day suicide and murder in close succession lead detectives to truth about who took the girls and why -- and how one got away and one vanished.

"In Bitter Chill" is Ward's first novel and, unfortunately, that's apparent in her writing. The novel could definitely have used some tightening, revising and better editing (and on the editing front, I found a heinous typo -- "your" when "you're" should've been used). I also thought the narration was a little scattered as it's told from three different perspectives -- two detectives' and Rachel's -- and sometimes it was a little hard to follow.

Even though Ward's writing is less-than-spectacular, it's by no means horrible and her debut work is a page-turner perfect for readers seeking something quick, easy-to-read and engrossing.


  1. Thank you for the review! It's been awhile since I read a detective story, this one sounds intriguing!

    1. Some other good (better) detective stories I've read lately are "In the Woods" by Tana French and "Still Life" by Louise Penny. They're both first books in a series and I'm excited to get caught up! This one definitely wasn't bad, though -- I just wish the writing were a little better.

  2. It's said that no one edits their books any more. I dread the day authors begin using text abbreviations instead of actual words. But the book sounds like a fun "popcorn" kind of mystery.

    1. As a former newspaper copy editor, those typos and grammatical errors irritate me to no end! Bad editing can totally kill a book for me, even if the plot is good. And I always wonder how the authors feel about those bloopers making it into the finished work. I know I would be humiliated!


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