Books & Literature

Book Review: Ruin Beach, by Kate Rhodes

The suspicious death of a local woman inverts the paradise of the Isles of Scilly, and Detective Investigator Ben Kitto is the only one who can get to the bottom of the ocean’s secrets.

Rhodes swiftly sets the stage of suspects, leaving the reader hooked

Kate Rhodes transports readers to the Isles of Scilly in her latest novel Ruin Beach. Her protagonist, Detective Investigator Ben Kitto, describes the landscape as ‘a child’s paradise, with hundreds of bays, caves and hill graves to explore’. It is within this idyllic setting that the most heinous of crimes takes place – a murder of one of the locals, the adult daughter of the local diving instructor.

Jude Trellon should’ve known better than to dive alone in the middle of the night, but she definitely would’ve known better than to get into any trouble in the water. ‘Free diving is a male domain, yet she chose to battle with the ocean, keen to sink deeper below its surface than anyone before.’

What Jude Trellon couldn’t have known was what – or who – was waiting in those depths. With a mermaid trinket forced down her throat, Jude Trellon is found anchored to the rocks with a plastic bottle tied to her leg, holding an unlikely note from the murderer, printed in capital letters – the song of an eighteenth-century sea shanty.

After setting aside his investigative skills since returning home to the islands, Ben Kitto must now assume everyone is guilty until proven innocent. Is it the Swedish boyfriend who has fathered Jude’s only child, or the jaded ex? Or perhaps the brother who can’t control his temper? Does the boy, who was secretly and obsessively in love with her, hold the key to the truth? Ben Kitto is determined to wade through the ocean’s secrets to get to the bottom of Jude Trellon’s murder with his canine, Shadow, in his wake.

Rhodes swiftly sets the stage of suspects, leaving the reader hooked. However, clues and coincidences aren’t always what they seem in this intriguing read. Rhodes cleverly only gives just enough of Ben Kitto’s personal life so as not to interfere with the thrilling main plot. Still, we are left wondering whether the spunky Zoe will win his heart in the end.

It is almost surprising to discover Ruin Beach acts as a sequel to Rhodes’ Hell Bay (having not read the first book). Ruin Beach, and its cast of uniquely crafted characters stands on its own as a novel. If anything, I look forward to reading the “prequel” to Ruin Beach.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Calder

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster
Released: January 2019
RRP: $29.99

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