Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Book Author: Sarah Ward

IN BITTER CHILL by Sarah Ward: Book Review

In the small English county of Derbyshire in 1978, two young girls are abducted on their way to school.  Rachel Jones is either released or escapes, she can’t remember which; she’s found a few hours later on a road outside a forest, close to her home.  But Sophie Jenkins is never heard from again, and her body, if she is dead, has never been recovered.

Now, on the anniversary date of her daughter’s disappearance, Sophie’s mother, Yvonne, is found dead, a suicide.  What made her kill herself now, more than three decades later?

There’s a new team of investigators, but they are convinced, as were the police thirty years ago, that Rachel doesn’t remember any more about the kidnapping now than she has already told them.  In all the intervening years, she had never seen or spoken to Yvonne, and Rachel and her late mother never discussed the abduction.  Rachel has tried to put the past behind her, not talking to the press or to anyone else about it.  But now, the police warn her, the file on Sophie Jenkins is going to be reopened, and Rachel realizes that everything will be examined all over again.

For someone who has always professed to have no memories of what happened after she and Sophie got into the car with the woman who offered them a ride, Rachel’s job is filled with memories–other people’s.  She has become a genealogist, making family trees for clients interested in knowing as much as possible about their ancestors.  Rachel’s only living relative is her grandmother Nancy, an indomitable woman now in a nursing home, whose advice about Rachel’s past has always been the same:  “These things are best forgotten.”

In Bitter Chill is a taut, exciting thriller.  The weather is cold and the town is cold too–people keeping secrets from their families and their neighbors.  Yvonne Jenkins, a devoted mother by all accounts, had withdrawn from the world after Sophie’s disappearance.  When asked by a policewoman to describe Yvonne, the neighbor says, “Frozen.  She was frozen.”  There are no photos or memorabilia of Sophie in the Jenkins’ home, almost as if the child had never lived there.  And yet Yvonne chose the anniversary of Sophie’s abduction to take her own life.

Sarah Ward’s first novel is filled with fear and surprises, right up to the last page.  It’s also filled with tenderness and caring.  Actually, it’s filled with all those things because they are what make up our lives.

You can read more about Sarah Ward at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.