Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Devil's Claw by Lara Dearman

The format of today's review may look a little odd. I originally intended this review to be for a journal, only to discover this title had already been assigned to someone else. Why waste a good review? This is formatted for that journal. However, saying that, Lara Dearman's The Devil's Claw was a strong, fascinating debut. If you like the exotic setting of Ann Cleeves' Shetland Island mysteries, give Guernsey Island a try, with it's setting, myths, and history.

After she's violently attacked while working on a story in London, journalist Jenny Dorey returns home to Guernsey Island. But, when she tracks down screams, she's thrust into the investigation of a suspicious death. After intensive research, Jenny forces Detective Chief Inspector Michael Gilbert to confront a policeman's worst fears. A serial killer may have been murdering young women for decades on the island, and the police never caught the pattern.

Dearman's writing and turn of phrase is thoughtful. There are paragraphs that caught my attention. When Gilbert looks at the other police, he notices. "They were all scared. Not of injury or death - at least, not always, but of failure." Then, there's Jenny, evaluating her decision to return to Guernsey. "Ironic really, that this was where she had come to escape her past. Because that was the thing about Guernsey: your past followed you, bumped into you, waved hello. There was no running from it, no hiding. You had to smile at it pleasantly instead."

This exceptional debut is one of those rare novels with multiple appeals to readers. It's an intense mystery that builds to a gripping conclusion. The atmospheric, suspenseful story plays with island myths and history, creating a strong sense of place. The stories of three haunted characters; Jenny, DCI Gilbert, and the killer, converge in an account that is compelling. The unusual island setting, dexterous writing, and flawed characters should appeal to the many readers of Ann Cleeves' Shetland Island series.

Lara Dearman's website is

The Devil's Claw by Lara Dearman. Crooked Lane Books, 2018. ISBN 9781683314561 (hardcover), 336p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.


Kay said...

Oh, yes - I'll be watching for this one. I love books set in the Outer Hebrides or the Channel Islands. Thanks for telling us about it!

SandyG265 said...

I’d never heard of this one. I just put it on hold at the library.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Kay. I hope you enjoy it.

Not one of the Big Five publishers, Sandy. But, I've been really impressed with Crooked Lane Books.

Gram said...

This one is on order at the library so I put it on my list. Thanks.