Mysteries old and new jostle for attention in Dearman’s second chilly valentine to the Channel Islands.
Not much happens on tiny Sark Island, and you’d think that the discovery of a skeleton, dead who knows how long, in a cavelike tomb on Derrible Bay would be the biggest story of the year. As it turns out, it’s not even the biggest story of the day. Guernsey News reporter Jenny Dorey, who’s made the trip to Sark to cover the story of the old bones, finds herself swiftly enmeshed in a more recent mystery: Someone has cut the throat of retired gardener Reg Carré. The man was an old curmudgeon, but, as his self-styled acquaintance Malcolm Perré sagely tells Jenny, “Round here, see, if falling out with someone led to murder, we’d all be fucking dead.” Neither Jenny nor Guernsey DCI Michael Gilbert, who’s already worked with her on one case (The Devil’s Claw, 2018), believes that the old man’s death on the same day the old bones came to light is coincidental. What disturbs Jenny even more is the two mysteries’ possible connections to the sudden decision of reclusive billionaire Corey Monroe, who bought the neighboring island of Brecqhou five years ago, to offer her an interview or to the death several years back of Charlie Dorey, the father whose drowning now looks more and more suspicious. But Jenny’s digging is bound to exact a price—as newcomer Tuesday Jones, who’s only lived on Sark for 25 years, advises her, “Have the News send over someone who’s less likely to get us all killed”—though this time, Michael will pay a higher price than she does.
Dearman effortlessly evokes the island’s atmosphere, but this caseload has more felonies and felons than a pickpockets’ convention. Sark’s three square miles are home to 450 souls, and by the fadeout you’ll be convinced that every single one of them is dirty.