My enormous thanks to Sam Eades at Trapeze Books for a copy of The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman in return for an honest review. I was so interested to read The Devil’s Claw as it’s set in Guernsey where I have landed 70 times en route to work in Jersey but have never got off the plane!
The Devil’s Claw is by Trapeze, an imprint of Orion, and is available for purchase through the various links here.
The Devil’s Claw
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 Devil’s Claw
With a traumatic event in her recent past Jenny thinks returning to Guernsey will help her recover so peace and tranquility. She’s wrong!
Having worked in Jersey every six weeks or so for years I have a pretty good understanding of the claustrophobic and intimate nature of the Channels islands. Lara Dearman is pitch perfect in depicting EXACTLY what it’s like. There’s a shared history, especially of the recent past, and mysticism that threads through life that Lara Dearman understands and depicts in an almost visceral way. In The Devil’s Claw Guernsey isn’t a mere setting, but a character in its own right, lending depth, atmosphere and danger so that I could hardly breathe at times. The writing is so visual that I could picture every detail vividly. The Devil’s Claw drips with authenticity of Channel Island life.
The plot is wonderfully deft and totally believable. I think those who don’t know island life might find some of the events and relationships slightly incredible, but they would be wrong. I was so utterly convinced that I found myself googling some events and people just to see if they actually existed, because Lara Dearman weaves fact and fiction so perfectly. As the book raced towards it’s totally satisfying conclusion I was desperate to read on because I was so caught up in events.
I loved the characterisation too. Jenny has a vulnerability and a determination that make her a three dimensional figure. If I feel I’d like to know a character personally then they are a success and I’d love to meet Jenny. I’m thrilled that The Devil’s Claw is the start of a new series as I have been left wanting even more. Indeed, I feel I need to reread The Devil’s Claw to pick up even more clues about Jenny et al. There are some unresolved aspects that I don’t want to spoil for readers but they don’t detract from the read; rather they add to the mystery and future possibilities. Brilliant!
It took me absolutely ages to read The Devil’s Claw because life got in the way and I think it is testament to the outstanding quality of Lara Dearman’s plotting, writing and story telling that even with huge gaps between when I was able to read, the story didn’t miss a beat. I could remember everything going on and found the narrative and characters calling to me. This is a hugely assured and absorbing debut novel and I can’t wait to read more about Jenny – and Guernsey.
About Lara Dearman
Lara was born and raised on the beautiful Channel Island of Guernsey. She moved to the UK to study International Relations and French at the University of Sussex, after which she endured a brief career in finance before giving it up to be a stay at home mum to her three children.
A short course in Creative Writing at Richmond Adult Community College led to Lara studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at St Mary’s University, London. She graduated in 2016 with a distinction.
Having moved from Guernsey to Brighton to London to Paris to Singapore and back to London over the last fifteen years, she has now settled in Westchester, New York, with her family. The Devil’s Claw is her first novel and combines her love of Guernsey, myths and folklore with her obsession with crime fiction and serial killers…
You can follow Lara on Twitter @laradearman.