The Devil’s Claw is a debut thriller from Lara Dearman which was one of the books featured in February’s My Chronicle Book Box (unboxing here). I originally subscribed to this box in order to discover crime novels I may not have otherwise found so was intrigued to read this one!
Lara Dearman grew up in Guernsey and it is on this island that the sinister events of this story unfold. I am always interested in reading stories set in locations I am not familiar with and the authors experience living in Guernsey added to the authenticity of the story and the vivid depiction of the landscape. Guernsey is the childhood home of Jennifer Dorey, who returns home following an incident in London to take a job as a local news reporter. However, despite moving from London to escape her troubles, Jenny finds herself caught up in a local tragedy straight away as she is amongst the first to discover the body of a young woman on the beach. But it turns out that this may not be quite as it seems, as there are similarities between this death and that of other deaths over the past fifty years. This leads to Jenny, with the help of DCI Michael Gilbert, working to get to the bottom of the mysterious deaths, and to prevent similar tragedies unfolding in the future…
This story was an intriguing one and I enjoyed seeing it unfold against the backdrop of the island. I thought that the setting worked well and I enjoyed the detail surrounding local myths and folklore which not only provides fascinating background of the island but also provides clues towards the disturbing events on the island. The story is told using multiple points of view, with chapters alternating between the perspectives of Jenny, Michael and the person responsible for the deaths. As the story progresses we see Jenny and Michael piece together the puzzle, with the chapters from the perspective of a killer being particularly chilling, as they carry out their grisly business undetected, and with meticulous planning. As events build to a conclusion the reader is kept guessing over how events may unfold and there is plenty of tension as Jenny finds herself in danger, as it becomes a race against time to stop the culprit before it is too late.
I found The Devil’s Claw to be an enjoyable and atmospheric thriller, in which local history and folklore is effectively used to help portray the sinister crimes within an island community.