Burnt Island by Kate Rhodes

(3rd in the Hell Bay/DI Ben Kitto Series)

I purchased this book back in May 2020 when I took advantage of Tesco’s 2 for £7 deal and ended up coming home with 4 new books because they were on offer and I couldn’t choose just 2! I moved into a new house in December 2020 and I’m lucky that it has an open fireplace so it seemed fitting that I would read Burnt Island whilst sitting in front of it. I also just want to comment on the beautiful cover art – it really is eerily warm and inviting, despite the pre-warning that something sinister is going to occur within.

Now, I didn’t realise that this book was part of a series when I bought it. The blurb didn’t hint at it at all (and in fact this works as a standalone because there aren’t any huge hints at preformed relationships that were pertinent to this case) but this is actually the 3rd in the Hell Bay/ DI Ben Kitto series. I will be seeking out the first 2, and the 4th which was just published in October 2020.

Back to Burnt Island; it’s very good. The close-knit community of the islanders was a refreshing angle because a fair few thrillers have been set in remote locations recently, always seemingly cut off by an unplanned event, but in the case of Burnt Island all the characters are isolated by definition. I’ve visited Cornwall on family holidays when growing up, but never really investigated the Scilly Isles, so I thoroughly enjoyed learning about island life (albeit with a little artistic licence as disclaimed in the Author’s Note).

I loved the plot, the characters, the setting, the language, everything! Kate Rhodes has a great writing ability, and whilst this is the first book I’ve read by her it won’t be my last. Atmosphere and pathetic fallacy are major pros of her style, but I also liked that she stuck to 1st person from DI Ben Kitto throughout. Feeling his thought processes and theories made him real, not a fantasy figure unlike other fictional detectives who seem to have never-ending luck and things just fall into place, this DI made mistakes and got it wrong along the way, but never relented. His perseverance and connection to the island’s inhabitants was inspiring and made him a truly likeable character. The crime was horrendous, but told with total humanity and the outcome received apt justice.

“No place to run. No place to hide.”- Burnt Island’s tagline is powerful and emotive. The truth of living on an island in general, let alone one as small as St Agnes means that sometimes, not always by design, you are truly cut off from the outside world. But, if that happened to me, I’d feel safe if DI Kitto was on duty – I can’t wait to go back and read his origin story and follow him further into the mysteries that occur on the beautiful Scilly Isles. Maybe one day I’ll even get to visit and explore. – GJ

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