For the third or fourth time in just a couple of weeks I find myself coming upon a series part-way through. But thankfully – once again – it was certainly not a problem. And I enjoyed this a lot, so have already added this book’s predecessor (cos there is only one) to my ‘must borrow or buy’ list.
by Kate Rhodes
Series: DI Ben Kitto #2
Published by Simon & Schuster
on January 1st 2019
Source: Simon & Schuster
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 9781471165467, 9781471165443, B078776LJH
Ben Kitto has become the Scilly Isles’ Deputy Chief of Police. As the island’s lazy summer takes hold, he finds himself missing the excitement of the murder squad in London. But when the body of professional diver Jude Trellon is discovered, anchored to the rocks of a nearby cave, his investigative skills are once again needed.
At first it appears that the young woman’s death was a tragic accident, but when evidence is found that suggests otherwise, the islanders close ranks. With even those closest to the victim refusing to talk, it seems that plenty of people might have had reason to harm her. As the islanders remain guarded, Ben Kitto suspects a killer is on the loose in Tresco.
I’ll start by confessing my ignorance… I’d never heard of Scilly Isles and initially misread it, thinking of the island off Italy. It was only when the opening page mentioned a ‘cairn’ that I paused and re-examined the maps included before the story itself kicks off and realised I was a few countries off.
Rhodes’ narrative offers a clear and vivid description of the tiny islands and land masses, inhabited by a few hundred people who sail / motor boat between islands. Interestingly she does so without overusing adjectives and visual cues, instead (somehow) easily placing me in the quaint villages by making them feel very real. I was reminded of my bucket-list fantasy for (what I perceive to be) an idyllic life in a quiet fishing village or seaside town somewhere in the UK.
Of course, this is why the murder of a local woman is such a horror for the community – though as this book is the second in the series and the first centred around a murder as well – the locals could be justified in thinking DI Ben Kitto is magnet for these kinds of crimes.
We quickly learn Ben was a cop in London and worked undercover before craving the quieter life of his childhood. I think there’s more of a backstory there as we meet Zoe, a woman he’s quite obviously attracted to, though they’ve some agreement that romance is not in the offing.
Rhodes does an excellent job at catching we newcomers up on Ben’s micro-managing boss, though Ben admits one of the reasons he and his boss clash is because they’re both control freaks who don’t like to cede the upper hand. There’s tension with another colleague who thought he should have been appointed to Ben’s (2IC) job and then there’s Eddie, a constable assigned to Ben, who’s a bit of a dark horse and respected by the latter.
Ben seems to know a lot of the locals and I’m assuming it was the case in the previous novel but wonder if the same people pop up in each or if those we meet here are more visible because of the location of the murder. I was intrigued by the communities and islands as they seemed independent of each other in some ways but not in others.
The case itself is an interesting one and I was completely led astray by Rhodes. In fact by the time I was really drawn into the case (and worried about the fate of a teenage boy – #longstory) I was feeling a bit frustrated because the baddies seemed to BE SO OBVIOUS. D’oh!
So, though we get a good inkling of the ‘why’ midway through the book, the ‘who’ keeps us guessing for some time, though the isolation of the island and scene of the murder mean the suspect pool is limited.
Upon later pondering, the pacing of the book probably reflects Ben (himself) and the progress of the investigation. It’s a bit slow to kick off. We’re meeting lots of new people and it’s a bit plodding (as I expect 6ft 4in Ben to be). But as more lives are put at risk, the pace picks up and I wasn’t able to put the book down once I got to that point. It felt very much like the proverbial race against time.
I liked Ben and his offsider Eddie, as well as others we meet in this outing. I suspect some appeared in the first book of the series and am keen to read it now cos I’m a little intrigued about Ben’s potential romance and, like Ben and his boss, I’m a bit of a control freak and NEED to know these things.
Ruin Beach by Kate Rhodes was published in Australia by Simon & Schuster and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.