Call it mother’s intuition, but I knew she was dead the moment she was late home. As I listened to her phone ring and ring, that’s when I knew for sure. My little girl was gone.
Twenty years ago, Sophie Nicoll never came home from school. Days later her body was found in a shallow grave on a remote farm a few miles from her hometown. Two boys from her school were found guilty. The press called the boys evil. Sophie’s family wanted them dead. The judge promised they’d never walk free.
Two decades later and schoolgirl Shannon Ross has vanished from a small town in the Scottish Highlands.
It’s Detective Jessie Blake’s first big case since she joined Perthshire Police. Having recently arrived from London, Jessie lives in fear of people finding out about her past and her reasons for moving north.
When Shannon’s body is found in the river on the outskirts of Inverlochty, Jessie discovers she’s not the only one with something to hide. As the small community begins to crack under pressure, people begin to point fingers. And soon, the big secrets hidden within the small town are revealed – with devastating consequences.
I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Heartlands by Kerry Watts, a brand new crime thriller set in the Highlands of Scotland. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
This is a debut novel but it doesn’t show. This is an extremely accomplished crime thriller which whizzed me through the pages and kept me gripped until the last page, and beyond (I know, cryptic!)
A young girl has gone missing in a small Highland town and everyone is on high alert, because there are echoes of another similar crime from years ago. but how could the two possibly be linked? Newly-recruited to the Highland force from London, DI Jessie Blake is eager to prove herself by solving the crime, but she has secrets of her own to protect.
I really loved the setting of this novel and thought the author brought it to life really well. The town is populated by well-built and interesting characters and the author creates realistic and fascinating dynamics between them. It all gelled perfectly for the plot and I was really impressed with the quality of the writing.
There are a lot of characters in this book, and the timeline jumps around quite a lot, so you need to pay attention to keep up but the reader soon gets in to the rhythm of the story. The author does an amazing job of dropping tiny clues and hints as to the perpetrator throughout the book, but lays so many false trails that, although I had my suspicions, I genuinely was not sure who had done what until the reveal. It was very cleverly done and I enjoyed trying to work it out. I particularly enjoyed the historical crime timeline, and I think Kerry portrayed the events, and the aftermath and consequences brilliantly.
If I had a small criticism, I would say that near the end there was an odd change of pace where the book suddenly sped up events, jumped forward quite quickly and seemed to have missed out a couple of steps. It felt to me that a chunk had just been edited out, not quite seamlessly, and it stuttered the narrative slightly for me which took me out of the book for a minute until my brain caught up. However, it was a minot flaw and something I am sure the author will correct with experience. It did not affect my overall enjoyment of the book and should not put off a potential reader at all.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book, I felt it was a very accomplished debut and a really interesting premise for a crime novel, well-executed. I would highly recommend this book to fans of the genre. There were questions over Jessie’s past left intriguingly open and I very much look forward to reading more in this series.
Heartlands is out now and you can buy a copy here.
To follow the rest of the tour, check out the dates on the poster below:
About the Author
Kerry Watts was born and grew up in a small town in the East of Scotland where she still lives today. She is always writing and carries a little notebook and pen with her wherever she goes because at her age ideas need to be captured before they disappear.
Kerry specialises in crime fiction because she enjoys pushing the boundaries of what it is to be human. The nature versus nurture debate fascinates her. She loves to put her characters in impossible situations just to see what happens. Her experience as a psychiatric nurse heavily influences her writing. She also wants to create characters that people can relate to who might be facing the same struggles as anyone else.
Authors who inspire her are anyone capable of creating a character who lives inside her head long after she has closed the book. Her favourite fictional character’s are Dexter Morgan, created by Jeff Lindsay as well as Hannibal Lechter created by Thomas Harris. She doesn’t have a favourite genre as a reader. Kerry will read anything. Written by anyone. If the blurb has a good feel about it she’s hooked.
When she’s not writing she loves to spend time following her other passions – dogs, particularly rescue mutts and horse racing. The sight of a thoroughbred race horse at full stretch has been known to move her to tears, not just lump in the throat stuff but full on blubbing. And for that she is unashamed. One day she’s going to buy a racehorse filly and call her Into Darkness.
She also had a small role in a film called The Rocket Post but decided acting wasn’t for her. She would rather create a character than play one.
Connect with Kerry:
Facebook: Kerry Watts Author