In the late 1970s, two girls go missing after accepting a ride to school from an unkown woman. One girl reappears some time later, with no memory of what happened. The other is never seen again. Decades later, on the anniversary of the disappearance, the missing girl’s mother commits suicide.
Now an adult, the surviving girl Rachel Jones, wants to find out how current events may relate to the mysteries of her past.
Local police are drawn into Rachel’s situation when a body is discovered; a murder victim possibly connected to those childhood events and the recent suicide.
Ward is a reviewer of crime fiction and this is her first book. She has created Bampton, a town in the Derbyshire Peaks to be the setting of her work. She has described how she created Bampton to reflect different aspects of real Peak towns and elements of those towns have been built into the fabric of her fictional location. (see * below)
She also introduces her readers to the town’s investigating detectives who will feature in her subsequent books. Connie Childs is a young Detective Constable given the task of revisiting the investigation into the decades’ old missing girl case, to see if anything was overlooked in previous investigations that might shed light on the recent events.
Similar to the first few Ann Cleeves’ books that set me on my crime fiction journey, the point of view of others in the community complements the police narrative. The book switches between the official investigation and the personal impact on the victims and others who find themselves caught up in the events, telling a story where community and family relationships are no less significant than solving the crimes that draw its characters together.
I’ve now taken care of the last of my Christmas shopping. After reading In Bitter Chill, I ordered copies of Ward’s first two books for my mum and have ordered hardcover copies of all her books (three to date) for myself.