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Hell Bay

This was excellent. The first in a new series, featuring DI Ben Kitto, returning to the Scilly Isles where he grew up. Thanks to his local knowledge, he is roped into a murder investigation when the daughter of one of his old schoolfriends is found dead, having fallen over the cliffs at Hell Bay. On a small island, with no one allowed on or off other than the police, the tension mounts. Ben himself, with the dog he inherited from his former colleague, is increasingly under threat, and is warned off, while his superior presses for quick results so that the island can return to what passes for normal. The inhabitants of Bryher are sympathetically portrayed, with commentary on the mores of island life, the ways in which people adapt to a confined environment.

The pace never lets up, and there are several clever twists before the end. One or two seemingly significant plot strands were either resolved a little too quickly or left hanging at the end, but as the first in a series, there may be an intention to revisit at least one of the themes, on the abuse of power. Rhodes sets up Kitto’s history skilfully, showing how the life of a policeman has taken him a long way from his roots. For page-turnability, this is one of the best I’ve read this year.