Why This Book
I’ve built a good relationship with the publisher, Crooked Lane, who offered Lara Dearman‘s book, The Devil’s Claw, the first in her Jennifer Dorey mystery series, as a thank you for all the other books I’ve chosen, read, and reviewed from them. I’m closing out all my commitments this month to publishers before I tackle some open ARCs, hence why this book wound up as my first choice in February.
Plot, Characters & Setting
Jennifer Dorey, a 30ish news reporter in contemporary times, returned from London to her hometown in Guernsey, a large island near France in the English Channel, after an attack over an article she had been writing on a scam over human trafficking services. When she arrives, she has memories of another attack when she was younger and the mysterious death of her father; however, that’s nothing compared to when she discovers a body on a beach near a cliff. Working with the local detective, Michael, they discover a series of murders that occurred throughout the last 50 years all with the markings of the Devil’s Claw. Jen and Michael investigate the past crimes, learning about improper police work, Nazi supporters, and a penchant for young blonde girls who hurt themselves. Everything collides when she stumbles upon the killer and is trapped in his/her menacing grip.
Approach & Style
I read a hardback version of this ~325 page novel in five hours over three days. It is broken into 45 chapters, each relatively short around 8 pages, and told in third person POV. Chapters alternate perspective from the killer, Michael, Jen and a few other supporting characters. The characters revisit history multiple times, so you have to focus on what’s current and what’s historical, but it’s fairly easy to stay aware. It’s written from a UK style with some details specific to police procedures and news reporting local to the area. It read well, but at times felt a bit too formal and stiff. It wasn’t enough to cause any issues, but it could have been relaxed a tad more so build a better reader / story connection. I’m not sure if it was the writing or the personality of Jen; time will tell when we see book two.
I enjoyed the debut book in this series. It has a slow build, keeps you guessing and offers multiple suspects. There are several side stories that eventually interweave in the plot, and it includes a few supporting characters who will likely continue into future books in the series. No one stood out other than the primary two, but with focus, I’m sure the depth will provide characters we crave reading about in the future. I love the connection between the private citizens and the owner of the newspaper. I was glad to see the partnership between the police and the news outlet. It felt real in both senses of what they did and they didn’t allow.
The plot was strong in terms of execution, red herrings, guesswork and inter-dependencies between all the characters and time periods. The ultimate reason for the murders isn’t as clear as I would have liked it to be; that said, it is good and keeps you turning the pages. You may just have some open questions in the end as I did, in terms of the Nazi connections, the reason the killer chose the victims (s)he chose, and how much the Devil’s Claw really had to do with it all. Nothing that threw me off, but I wanted it tied together more tightly.
Dearman weaves an eerie story with a fantastic background setting. Guernsey was a new locale for me, but one that peaks a lot of interest. I’m curious to find out how much of what was in the book is truth versus fiction. Kudos to her for creating a new series with lots of possibilities.
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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