In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward – Review

Published by – Faber and Faber

Publication date – 5 November 2015

Source – review copy


“Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide.
Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.
This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.”

4 of 5 star

1978. Two girls are kidnapped on their way to school. Only one returns. Rachel Jones can’t remember much of what happened that January morning but over 30 years later it has shaped her life in often unseen ways. The past comes back to haunt her when the mother of the other girl, Sophie Jenkins, commits suicide in a local hotel. Rachel realises the only way to move on from the events of the past is to find out what really happened.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and this is my honest opinion of the book.

This is an assured debut from Sarah Ward, who reviews crime novels on her website This isn’t a book filled with core or bloody scenes. It is a gentle paced novel but don’t let that fool you. This is a story that creeps up on you and draws you in without really noticing. I soon got lost in the pages and looked forward to reading it when I was away from the book.

I liked the character of Sadler and would love to see him return in future books. He had a gentle way of dealing with people and situations, though was not without personal issues. It would have been nice to learn more about his back story and see more of his character develop, hence my hope for more from him. Of his colleagues Connie and Palmer I felt that Connie was the stronger of the two. Palmer almost faded into the background. I found myself a little distanced from him and unable to figure out the dynamic between him and Connie. As for Connie I would have liked to know more about her, as what was revealed helped shape her for the reader.

The real focus of the story is Rachel. We see how the kidnapping has effected her life, her distrust of women conflicting with the fact that her family tree focussed on the matriarchal line only, or perhaps because of it. The genealogy aspect was fascinating and very relevant to the story. It allowed Rachel to be her own form of detective, looking into things that she can control i.e. the past.

I had fun figuring out the twist in the tale and the outcome was one I can’t recall coming across in recent crime novels I’ve read.

A great read. I’m looking forward to more novels from Sarah Ward.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. looking forward to reading this. It’s on the TBR pile!


    1. janetemson says:

      I hope you like it, I’ll keep a look out for your review 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SnazzyBooks says:

    This looks great! Wasn’t on my radar until now so I’ll be adding to my TBR pile- great review 🙂
    Laura x


    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Laura. Do let me know what you think of it when you get to read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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