cover image In Bitter Chill

In Bitter Chill

Sarah Ward. Minotaur, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-06917-7

In Ward’s underwhelming debut, an unknown woman abducted two eight-year-old Derbyshire girls, Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins, while they were walking to school on Jan. 20, 1978. Rachel was found a few hours later, unharmed in the woods, but Sophie was never seen again and the kidnapper never apprehended. More than 30 years later, Sophie’s mother, Yvonne, commits suicide in a hotel room, leading Det. Insp. Francis Sadler and his eager underling, Det. Constable Connie Childs, to reexamine the kidnapping case to see what prompted the woman to kill herself. Meanwhile, Rachel, who still lives in the area and works as a family historian, is adamant that she remembers nothing from the day she was snatched. When another body turns up, that of a former teacher at Rachel and Sophie’s school, the detectives begin to wonder if someone is covering up the tracks from 1978. Ward shows her hand much too early, killing the suspense, and her characters are wooden at best. Agent: Kirsty McLachlan, David Godwin Associates (U.K.). (Sept.)