A Guernsey-bred reporter who’s retreated from the criminal cobwebs of London to her birthplace finds the Channel Islands just as deep in malfeasance and a lot deeper in denial.
Everyone in the parish of Vale is sorry that health care student Amanda Guille is dead at 18, and everyone is certain that her drowning was accidental. Only Jennifer Dorey suspects otherwise, and that’s only because of a fluke: Margaret Dorey, the mother whose recent widowing has combined with Jenny’s handling of an exposé that turned too hot to handle to bring her back to Vale, happens in conversation to recall the similar case of her friend Elizabeth Mahy, who drowned in a bathing pool way back in 1966. A little digging discloses a history of four other young women who’ve drowned in the 50 years since—and if that doesn’t sound like very many, well, “it’s a very small island.” Jenny works on the story assiduously, carefully sourcing every new development and resolutely avoiding sensationalizing the events. But when she discovers an incontrovertible link among the six victims, Brian Ozanne, her editor at the Guernsey News, runs headlong from the story for reasons that can’t be good. Luckily, Jenny has already found a more receptive colleague in a surprising place: the local police station, where DCI Michael Gilbert, who’d openly invited her participation from the beginning, takes her a great deal more seriously. It’s a heroic stand considering that the revelation of half a century of unpunished murders will be laid on his department and perhaps put paid to his career. In the end, though, the top prize for valor goes to Jenny, who refuses to walk away from the case and confronts the killer in a last-ditch effort to save yet another victim.Dearman’s debut is overwrought in its addiction to italicized flashbacks, highly competent in its use of serial-killer conventions, and appealingly heartfelt in its heroine’s entirely believable dedication.