Ruin Beach (2019) by Kate Rhodes

Piper’s Hole is an isolated cave on Tresco, one of the Scilly Isles. When the body of Jude Trellon, a diver, is found anchored to the rocks, it becomes quickly clear that she was murdered. Ben Kitto is soon to face his confirmation hearing for the post of Deputy Chief of Police of the Isles, but understandably finds himself occupied with investigating the murder.

But the local community is a closed group, and Kitto finds it hard to get a straight answer from anyone. Is it possible that Jude had found a legendary sunken treasure? And was that enough for someone to kill her for? When a young lad, a lad who was obsessed with Jude, disappear, Ben and the islanders find themselves in a race against time to find a murderer and save the boy’s life.

You’ll remember me heaping praise on the first book in this series, Hell Bay, a book that I read on a whim and really enjoyed, especially the characters of Ben Kitto, his love interest whose name escapes me and his reluctant dog, Samson. Unfortunately, the reason I forget the love interest’s name is that it seems that their story, which seemed to me to face a large obstacle at the end of Hell Bay, seems to be over – indeed, she barely gets a mention. That was a shame, as I really enjoyed that aspect of Hell Bay, a strong counterpoint to the mystery plot.

Now that Kitto has chosen to remain on the island, he’s lost a lot of conflict and while something does present itself towards the end of the book, I’m curious where his personal life will go next. But this book definitely has the crime as the central thread (as it should) but I felt that now that Kitto was settled, there was something missing.

In fact, there’s a lot of “difficult second book” about the whole thing. Because the first book invested me in the series, I’m definitely going to stick with it, but the mystery side of it didn’t have the same dark haunted sense of the first book. Don’t get me wrong, I was engrossed by it, but it didn’t chill me like the first one. And it did commit the cardinal sin by Kitto deducing the murderer’s identity by catching him/her trying to kill someone, rather than working it out for himself.

Sorry, this is coming across as pretty negative, and that’s not fair, it was a very enjoyable read, much better than a lot of modern mystery/thrillers. But I strongly recommend the reader starts with Hell Bay when they come to the series. I’ll let you know about Book Three, Burnt Island, soon…

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