Title: The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman
Jennifer Dorey Series Book One
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 332 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Following a traumatic incident in London, journalist Jennifer Dorey has returned home to Guernsey, taking a job as a local newspaper reporter. When she finds a drowned woman on a beach, Jennifer uncovers something much bigger and more sinister than she first thought.
Jennifer enlists the help of DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, to investigate a pattern of similar deaths over the last fifty years. They follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier, whose painstakingly executed work has so far gone undetected. But as Jennifer gets closer to the truth of the killer’s identity, she finds herself stepping deeper into his grasp.
Jennifer thinks she’s safe, but the dark hides sinister things in The Devil’s Claw, Lara Dearman’s exhilarating debut novel.
The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman is a beguiling mystery set on the island of Guernsey. This first installment in the Jennifer Dorey series stars an intrepid newspaper reporter who unearths a series of murders that stretches over a span of 50 years.
Jennifer “Jenny” Dorey returned to her small hometown following the death of her father and a rather traumatic incident in London. She is a thorough reporter who uncovers some very unsettling information following the recent drowning death of a local young woman, Amanda Guille. Discovering a startling pattern of young women’s deaths that begins in the 1960s, Jenny teams up with Detective Chief Inspector Michael Gilbert to learn the truth about what happened to these troubled young women who bear an eerie yet striking resemblance to one another.
Jenny has suffered a couple of traumas in her life and at the start of the story, she cannot be certain whether or not someone is following her. Could the person who threatened her on her last story in London have tracked her down in Guernsey? Or is someone much closer to home responsible? Before she can get to the bottom of her personal mystery, Jenny is distracted by her mother’s recollection of the drowning death of her childhood friend back in the 1960s. This startling revelation catches her attention and she begins researching the deaths of several young women who have drowned over the past half century.
Well aware of the implications for the police department’s handling of these deaths, Michael immediately begins reviewing the old case files. Although he is not particularly well-liked by his colleagues, no one can deny that Gilbert is a thorough investigator with incredibly well-honed instincts. Once he finds definitive proof that indicates a serial killer has most likely been operating under the radar for nearly fifty years, Michael has no choice but to go public with these findings in hopes of uncovering new evidence.
Interspersed with the chapters which follow Jenny and Michael’s investigations are entries from the killer’s point of view. His identity is unknown but startling details about his parentage, unhappy childhood and his derisive opinion about his mother offer insight into this very troubled man. Will Michael and Jenny unmask his identity before he kills again?
The Devil’s Claw is a clever mystery that incorporates elements of Guernsey’s history and folklore into the storyline. Jenny and Michael are wonderfully developed characters who both have somewhat tragic and troubled backstories that are easy to relate to. Lara Dearman’s descriptive prose brings Guernsey and its inhabitants vibrantly to life. The truth about the killer’s identity is carefully concealed right up until the novel’s nail biting conclusion. Fans of the genre are sure to enjoy this first installment of the Jennifer Dorey series.