In the seaside town of Whitecliff, everyone looks out for each other. Everyone knows your name. And everyone knows your secrets…
Moonlight falls on the figure of the girl standing on the red-tiled roof. Her white dress and blonde hair flutter in the freezing night wind. And suddenly – she is gone.
Volunteering at the local nursing home is Millie Westlake’s one escape from the rumours that swirl around Whitecliff about her past. But speaking with elderly resident, Ingrid, as they play board games, Millie gets chills at her strange story about a young girl being pushed from a roof, somewhere across the valley…
Everybody thinks Ingrid is confused: but Millie knows how it feels to not be believed. Her parents died a year ago, and the residents of Whitecliff – such a quiet place, other than crashing waves and cawing seagulls – are convinced Millie killed them.
Desperately searching for evidence to find the girl Ingrid saw, a broken roof tile could prove Ingrid was telling the truth. But when strange footprints appear in Millie’s garden, she’s certain someone out there is watching.
Have Ingrid and Millie stumbled across something terribly dangerous? And with the town against her, will Millie have to face up to her own secrets to solve the mystery before it becomes deadly?
I love it when I get to start a series with Book 1 as my norm seems to be to get in on Book 14 of one that is already successful (and fully developed). Sometimes that’s a great introduction to the series, other times it’s assumed the backstory has been rehashed and the MC so well developed the reader already knows every freckle or mole on his/her face.
Of course, that can work the other way as well. Starting a new series means getting the protagonist established, developed, the support characters introduced and the setting created in the mind of the reader. The process can be a slow one.
For me, it meant that this is one sluggish read. The main character Millie is hiding in plain sight, volunteering at the local nursing home where she can get lost with the old folks, providing a visit, a game, a story for those who get precious little one-on-one.
In the course of visiting with Ingrid, Ingrid relates witnessing from her upper story window a young girl being pushed from the roof a house or two away. Ingrid, of course, is known to get confused sometimes but Millie finds her story plausible and having somewhat of a gap in her own credibility, believes her. She is sympathetic to Ingrid and feels she must check into the story. But who does she trust?
It’s a small town with all the small town foibles, but a seaside village beautifully described. There is a support character who becomes somewhat a source of help while adding additional layers to the narrative and throwing off red herrings. A distraction.
Millie has an upward battle in finding an ear that will listen as her parents died suspiciously recently and she is suspected of providing their push into the hereafter. (Another small backstory I couldn’t quite buy or the reason people thought so.)
I couldn’t warm up to Millie and the story wove in and out of my interest. Too many questions not resolved in Book 1 because it is so obviously intended to lead into Book 2. My problem is lack of incentive.
I’ve read Kerry Wilkinson before, the most recent being The Blame, and can usually become engaged or entertained if not hanging on the edge of my seat to see where it’s going. No doubt there are Wilkinson fans who’ll enjoy picking through the breadcrumbs, but for me, this is a one off.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Three Stars
Genre: Murder, Murder Thrillers, Suspense
Print Length: 357 pages
Publication Date: April 17, 2023
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble
The Author: Kerry Wilkinson has sold two million books – and had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018 and Close To You won the International Thriller Award for best ebook in 2020.
As well as his Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.
Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry spent way too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.
When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike, hikes up something, or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.
©2023 V Williams