The Back Road
Thomas & Mercer
In a quiet country village, secrets abound.
When a young girl, Abbie Campbell, is knocked over and left for dead on the back road of the village of Little Melham, waves of shock ripple through the small community and a chain of events, which threatens to expose long-kept secrets, is triggered.
For Ellie Saunders, the truth about that night puts both her marriage and the safety of her children in jeopardy–she has to protect her family, no matter what the cost. And Ellie isn’t the only one with something to hide. She and her sister Leo believe they have put their troubled childhood behind them, but Leo’s quest for the truth reveals a terrible secret that has lain hidden for years.
Ellie’s neighbour, former detective Tom Douglas, has escaped to Little Melham in search of a quiet life, but finds himself drawn into the web of deceit as his every instinct tells him that what happened to young Abbie was far more than a tragic accident.
In this gripping novel, the peaceful English countryside belies the horrible truths that lurk beneath the trimmed hedgerows, behind the closed doors of smart sitting rooms and within unspoken conversations.
The prologue provided a great hook – however it was not until the very end that I was able to make sense of the allusion. I don’t know if this was deliberate or not? For most of the book I thought this was a reference to the early lives of Ellie and Leo, the two sisters whom most of the story surrounds. Maybe it was a twist I wasn’t meant to get until the end but for me that just added another red herring.
I found this book to be a slow burner. But to be fair to the author it is possibly because of late I have read some very fast paced, tension filled violent hard boiled works of crime fiction and this is not in the same genre. I would classify this is more of a cozy crime read – set in a quiet English village, the main characters are likable and empathetic even if a little flawed by events of the past, the language is polite and rarely is there swearing or obscenities, sex scenes are more alluded to then on the page or never quite happen, and the criminals or victims are not particularly likable and justice prevails in the end.
But don’t think for a minute this book is a straight forward uneventful read; it is full of plot twists and turns, there are many red herring thrown in for good effect and there are plenty of dark secrets to be revealed. Once I had read a few chapters I became quite involved in this read and particularly liked the characters of Leo – and her Life Coaching Blog writings and the former detective Tom Douglas – whom I would like to have known more about. The pace did pick up and mysteries deepened. I liken this book to an episode of Midsummer Murders –which I enjoy viewing; plenty happens in the quiet English village, there are murders, there are secrets to be slowly unpicked and revealed and you become attached to the main characters. The narrative will not keep you awake at night needing a night light to get to sleep but you will fill happy that in the end all is satisfactorily resolved.