Dark Sky Island – Lara Dearman @laradearman @TrapezeBooks

There’s a killer on the island – and someone knows who…

When human bones are found in a remote bay in the Channel Islands, DCI Michael Gilbert is plunged into an investigation to find out who they belong to. The remains are decades old – but after another body is discovered, the police realise they could be dealing with a serial killer.

Journalist Jennifer Dorey is desperate for answers, driven by a secret of her own – but it soon becomes clear that nobody on the island is quite what they seem. Will anyone tell the truth before it’s too late? Or will the killer on the island strike again…?

Dark Sky Island was published by Trapeze on the 18th April 2019. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book via NetGalley for this review as part of the blog tour organised by Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers.

Dark Sky Island is the second in the series set in the Channel Islands featuring DCI Michael Gilbert and journalist Jennifer Dorey following Deep Dark Water (previously published as The Devil’s Claw). Dark Sky Island can be read as a stand alone as there are plenty of references to previous key events to bring new readers to the series on board.

When Jenny is given the heads up from Michael that human remains have been found in a cave in Sark, it doesn’t take Jenny long to hope on a boat from Guernsey to be first on the scene. Shortly after a body is discovered which is unheard of from this close-knit community where literally every one knows each other and front doors are left unlocked. What is even more chilling is that there is a murderer amongst them as it’s not so easy to come and go as the islanders soon notice new people. Whilst Jenny is first and foremost pursuing a story, she is also keen to go to Sark to try and find out what happened to her father 3 years ago when he tragically lost his life off the coast.

I think that Sark was the perfect location for this story; it has no street lights so as not to pollute the night sky (Sark was designated as the World’s First Dark Sky Island in 2011, hence the books title!), there are no motor vehicles and the island is only 3 miles by 1 mile. What results is a very claustrophobic setting when it’s evident that there is a murder amongst you. Any night time jaunts to the pub, or something more sinister, is done in the pitch black!

Lara Dearman has written a clever murder mystery which is set both in the present and the past through the voice of one of the residents, alongside this there is small-island politics between the born and bred Sarkees and the rich man who has made Sark his home. The narrative itself is unpredictable because the islanders are clearly keeping secrets however it’s not clear whether its in conjunction with the murder, the past or just more generally as those asking the questions are outsiders. There are some interesting characters in this book and I particularly liked the relationship between Michael and Jenny, whilst keeping a professional distance to maintain police integrity, Michael isn’t averse to giving Jenny titbits of information! However, Michael is keeping something from Jenny himself which adds to their dynamic….

I really enjoyed this book and, having visited Guernsey a number of times (was our family holiday destination for years!) I loved recognising places and past times that are referenced throughout this book. A quality murder mystery with bags of tension…a brilliant read!

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…

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