There are several crime authors attending Narberth Book Fair, and choosing one book from the genre was particularly difficult. The book I finally plumped for was The Silent Quarry by Cheryl Rees-Price, published in December 2015 and the first in the DI Winter Meadows series. I can’t remember seeing another blogger review, and I thought it might be good to introduce my crime-reading friends to a series they might not already be familiar with.
In 1987 two school girls go missing – only one is found alive.
Gwen Thomas is the girl who survived the brutal attack that claimed the life of her best friend. She has lived her life in constant fear. With no memory of the attack, anyone in this close-knit community could be the killer.
Trapped in a loveless marriage she decides it’s time to face the demons of the past. On a sunny afternoon, she returns to the old quarry where 30 years earlier she was found barely alive. She doesn’t come home.
The killer is back.
DI Winter Meadows has a personal connection to the case. Gwen was his childhood friend. Returning to the Welsh valleys after working in London for the past 20 years has made him a stranger in the community. A community that is steeped in secrets. If Meadows is to save Gwen then he must solve the case from 1987, but there is more than one person who wants Gwen to remain silent.
Although I read very few crime novels these days, I’m delighted to report that this book was a perfect choice – well written, and a great story. Far from the simple whodunnit I rather expected, it’s a story full of twists and turns, travelling between the past and present as Gwen’s memory returns of the incidents surrounding the attack and death of her friend. There’s plenty of police procedural content around investigating a cold case for die-hard fans, but I particularly enjoyed the focus on the well-drawn characters. I’d happily spend more time with DI Winter Meadows – as well as being rather “hot”, I loved the detail about his past, exposing the prejudices of the vividly drawn Valleys community. I also enjoyed the way the author handled the simmering attraction between him and Gwen, seen from both sides.
The slow reveal is expertly handled, and the outcome came as a real shock and surprise, the clues well hidden – I think I had everyone in the frame at one point or another, as the red herrings multiplied and the finger of suspicion moved about. I found it totally gripping – the writing’s excellent, the tension building steadily, and the whole perfectly paced. The descriptions are excellent too, particularly of the quarry itself, the hills above and its approaches. I really enjoyed this one – and when I need my next crime fix, I’d be more than happy to read another book in this series.
That’s the last in my series of posts taking a look at the books of some of the authors attending Narberth Book Fair – but I wish I could have read more. I did take a quick “look inside” Sally Spedding’s Come and Be Killed and very much liked what I read – now there’s another author I must take a closer look at later. And now I’m in danger of mentioning every author attending that I haven’t managed to read, so I’ll stop – and look forward to seeing them on 22nd September.
About the author (from the Narberth Book Fair website)
Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and three cats. After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.
Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.
In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.