“A smart and gripping debut that saves its best for last.” —Chris Cleave, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Little Bee
“[A] thoroughly satisfying and suspenseful debut…the final twist in the murder plot will catch many readers unaware, as will the surprising emotional heft of the narrative, which traces the damage wrought by secrets and good intentions gone awry.” —Publishers Weekly
For fans of Louise Penny and Tana French, this “unsettling…compelling” (Glamour) thriller explores the devastating repercussions of a long-ago crime as it delves into forbidden relationships, the emotional bond between mothers and daughters, and the dark consequences of harboring secrets.
It is the summer of 1956, and fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent has never left the Cornish fishing village of St. Steele or ventured far beyond the walls of the Hotel Eden, the slightly ramshackle boarding house run by her moody, unpredictable mother.
But Betty’s world is upended when a string of brutal murders brings London’s press corps flooding into the village, many of whom find lodging at the Hotel Eden. She is instantly transfixed by one of the reporters, the mysterious and strangely aloof Mr. Gallagher—and he, fully twice her age, seems equally transfixed by her. The unlikely relationship that blooms between Betty and Mr. Gallagher is as overlaid with longing and desire as it is with impropriety and even menace.
And as the shocking death toll rises, both Betty and Mr. Gallagher are forced to make a devastating choice, one that will shape their own lives—and the life of an innocent man—forever. The revelations in Powell’s haunting debut will give you chills, and her unforgettable heroine will break your heart.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
It’s the summer of 1956, and a serial killer dubbed the Cornish Cleaver roams a sleepy English seaside town that’s overrun by a clutch of ambitious London reporters. Teenager Betty Broadbent caters to these men in her mentally ill mother’s boardinghouse—and, against her better judgment, gets entangled with an ambitious, much older journalist. Laura Powell’s debut novel brilliantly alternates between this period of crumbling innocence and the present day. Her steadfast prose disguises the plot’s gob-smacking twists and turns, which utterly blindsided us.
In her thoroughly satisfying and suspenseful debut, Powell offers a twisty, dark murder mystery that is as much about taboos and secrets as it is a whodunit. Fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent's Cornish village, St. Steele, is usually fairly quiet. But when a series of young women are brutally murdered in the area during the summer of 1956, the coastal community not to mention the inn managed by Betty's volatile and promiscuous mother is inundated by journalists. One of them, a Mr. Gallagher, takes an interest in Betty that quickly goes beyond mere friendship and that affects the shape not only of the investigation but also of both their lives. Scenes from that brutal and eventful summer are interspersed with a more contemporary narrative set 50 years later, in which a woman known as Mary recently diagnosed with breast cancer grows increasingly determined to connect with a figure she once knew in St. Steele. While some of the narrative's revelations will come as little surprise, others are genuinely unnerving. And the final twist in the murder plot will catch many readers unaware, as will the surprising emotional heft of the narrative, which traces the damage wrought by secrets and good intentions gone awry.