Monday, 13 July 2015

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward



published 2015


IN Bitter Chill 3


[Police officers Sadler and Connie are attending a colleague’s wedding while in the middle of a major investigation]

‘Do you want to go for a walk? It’s at least another half an hour before we eat. I’ve just checked.’

Connie looked at Sadler in surprise. ‘It’s freezing outside. I’ve only got this dress and my coat. Where did you have in mind?’

Sadler for the first time seemed to take in what Connie was wearing. She had a wraparound dress that fell to her knees. She had thought about putting heels on but one look at the weather had changed her mind and she had put on her suede boots with the wedges. They would be ruined if it was raining.

‘Is this the first time I’ve seen you in a dress?’

A retort rose to her lips but again she could see that Sadler was smiling at her. ‘It doesn’t matter. I thought outside because we could get some peace to talk…’


observations: I wrote recently about the launch party for Sarah Ward’s book – I met Sarah online via a shared interest in crime fiction, so I was delighted that she has just had her first crime novel published, and it is set to be a great success and, we hope, the first of many. The characters - including those above, and the intriguing groom at the wedding – have great potential.

I loved the book. I raced through it, unwilling to put it down, anxious to know what happened. It’s exactly the kind of crime book I most enjoy: solid plot, great characters, excellent clues, and a crime in the past coming back to haunt the present-day.

In 1978, two young girls were abducted as they walked to primary school. One came back, remembering little of what happened, and the other one hasn’t been seen since. More than 30 years later the mother of the missing girl commits suicide. What has happened to finally tip her over the edge? The police investigate, and so does the other girl, Rachel Jones, the one who came back. She is now a genealogist, and she starts tracking down details about the people concerned.

The plot is complex and fascinating, and deals with the secrets, lies and mysteries that attach to all families. It’s very good on the differences between 1978 and now, and uses those aspects to great advantage in the plot – from variations in morals and changes in attitudes, to the fact that the two little girls walked to school alone, as was normal then.

It is also simply GREAT to read a crime book with strong female characters (good and bad) and with serious issues at the heart, but without really gruesome and unpleasant descriptions, too much violence, or horrible details. It can be done!

More 1978 detail came with the Green Shield stamps and the long white socks – knobbly with a pattern snaking down the side, as worn by every 8 year old girl going to school then:

IN Bitter Chill 4In Bitter Chill

When we first meet Rachel she is yanking at them…

So all in all a great read, and my only complaint is related to the clothes descriptions (of course): the outfit above is exactly what you can imagine Connie wearing for a wedding, and I also just loved this description of Nancy, a lively woman in her 90s:
She was dressed in a pale mauve cardigan over a light grey dress from Marks and Spencer that Connie [about 30?] had tried on earlier that week and had decided was too young for her.
So Sarah should do more of them – she gets them right, and they add to the understanding of character. She kept me quiet at her party by assuring me that she will do more in future…

The top picture is a TV presenter called Louise Roe.















20 comments:

  1. So delighted to see Sarah's work here. Moira. And very happy ('though not in the least surprised!) that you enjoyed it. Much success to her!

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    1. Yes it's lovely to see her success, isn't it?

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  2. Moira, I liked Sarah's debut novel a lot, particularly the character of Sadler. Sarah sent me a review copy but I haven't had the time to review it yet owing to my new job pressures. Looking forward to it, though.

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    1. Look forward to seeing your review when you have time to do it Prashant.

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  3. LOVE that outfit. And yes, these socks, always twisted round on your feet! Plan to read In Bitter Chill in next couple of weeks. She was one of the first to write a comment and "like" a post, and I'll always remember that. She's very generous spirited, imho!

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    1. Yes, the socks - Sarah's description is brilliant, the elastic going and them sliding down, took me right back. And yes, too, about Sarah - she was so generous and welcoming to me too, I know exactly what you mean. It couldn't happen to a nicer person.

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  4. Moira: Thanks for the review. I hope Sarah's book makes it to Canada. Now with regard to those boots. They look great. Perfect for wearing unless it is raining, snowing, cold, hot, muddy, slippery, etc. I expect they were intended for indoor wear!

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    1. I knew they'd have you shaking your head Bill! Connie herself can see they are totally impractical, I think she just likes the look of them.
      I'm sure you will enjoy the book when it reaches Canada.

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  5. Moira, glad the book lived up to your expectations. It's been noted, should the embargo end!

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    1. I think you'll like it when the time comes. Not as noir a some of yours, but a really good crime-in-the-past plot, and some great coppers.

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  6. I am looking forward to reading the book. I love those socks. I have always had a thing for socks.

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    1. We all did wear those socks, and it was brilliant the way Sarah reminded me (and every other woman reader my age) of something we'd forgotten all about.

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  7. You took the words right out of my mind! Yes, this is exactly the kind of mystery I like, too, good characters, interesting plot and no gore. But one more characteristic I found that crime fiction readers often require: the reader and the detective find out plot developments at the same time so the reader can solve the crime, too. No mysterious suddenly appears from Sicily, no clue shows up at the end unexpectedly, no surprises that would throw the reader off kilter.
    The plot develops and everything unfolds for the detectives and the reader simultaneously.
    I also sat for two days, undisturbed, with my iced tea and snacks and did nothing but read until I was finished. I had a feeling of satisfaction when I turned the last page, and thought "this is the type of crime fiction I like."
    I can't wait for the next book either.

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    1. Very good points Kathy, I hadn't put that thought into words but I know exactly what you mean - no cheating. Yes, Sarah's books would become must-reads for me even if I didn't know her....

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  8. Also, this book is like a "classic" mystery, everything one needs to enjoy a book with solid detective work and the day-in-day-out grind of an investigation.

    I am amazed that you found a wrap dress with high suede boots!

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    1. Thank you - I was really pleased with that picture!

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  9. I'm really looking forward to reading this, so I am not reading anything above until I have done so!

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  10. A friend borrowed my copy, is still reading it and told me today very excitedly, "I love this book." I gave her Crimepieces url and she will write a note to Sarah.

    I wish we could figure out how to promote the book over here other than at Amazon and at a few wonderful blogs.

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    1. Yes, Kathy, you feel that this is a book that would be tremendously popular if people just knew about it.

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