The Devil’s Claw – Lara Dearman (@laradearman)


The Devil’s Claw was published by Trapeze on 7 September 2017

The six drowned girls stared up at them from the photographs. All young. All attractive. All dead. ‘It is a lot of dead girls. And it’s a very small island.’

* * * * *

Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer Dorey has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.

After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.

Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected.

But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.

My review of the sampler – which contained the first few chapters of the book

The Devil’s Claw – Lara Dearman (sampler)

My thoughts

Murder linked to Guernsey’s dark war time history. Dark myths. Small town claustrophobia. A killer who has been taking his pleasure for half a century. What is not to love? I mean LOVE in capital letters. The Devil’s Claw delivers a deadly slice.

The Devil’s Claw is the debut twisted thriller from Lara Dearman. It sets the scene for a compelling series, introducing us to hardworking and traumatised journalist Jennifer Dorey. She unites with DCI Michael Gilbert, of the local police, to seek the truth. Gilbert’s own history of alcoholism then conversion to Christianity give him rather a unique perspective. These two characters are on a journey, personally and professionally. Dorey is back in her home town, after some terrible events in her life. A girl’s body is found on the beach. Dorey senses a story. She is tenacious. Soon she discovers a pattern of similar deaths stretching over a fifty year period. Who is the murderer in their midst? Dorey and Gilbert must seek out a killer, who has been hiding in the shadows for a very long time.

Let me say how much I appreciated the historical perspective of life in Guernsey under occupation. For those who do not know their history, Nazi Germany invaded the Channel Islands during the Second World War. The long term consequences of social disintegration sits heavily on the shoulders of our killer. Without giving much away, we follow the killer from his birth to the present day. We learn that his birth was a result of his mother’s frowned upon relationship with a German soldier, whilst the island was under occupation. This deeply hurt our murderer and his self identity. He sees himself clearly as a outsider and a victim. Murder is his way of taking back control.

This is more Broadchurch than blood bath. It is intelligent and psychological. Jenny Dorey return to Guernsey, to lick her wounds and heal. She rejoins a community, that she knows well. This is a place, where everyone knows everyone. It is a small community, with a long term memory. It is beautifully depicted by Lara Dearman. There is a fabulous sense of place, complete with cool and eerie folklore. As Dorey soon discovers, even in a seemingly tranquil place like Guernsey, there can be evil and deep seated secrets.

This is my kind of crime. Prose to die for. Evocative and thought-provoking. Two brand new characters to get to know and love. The satisfying promise of more. A deadly mystery, with its roots in the historical past. I am so hooked. Gripping stuff. I’m ready for the next instalment now, Lara Dearman!



About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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