Why a booktrail?
The Falkland islands are a raw and rugged landscape – desolate for one women who lost both her children one fateful day. She blames her former best friend and now wants revenge..
Story in a nutshell
Several years after the Falklands War and three after Catrin’s two young sons were killed when her former best friend Rachel made a tragic mistake. Catrin and husband Ben are now divorced and Ben has seemingly moved on but Catrin holds a terrible grief and want for revenge deep inside.
The novel opens as she is making specific plans on how to kill Rachel but she is interrupted by news that there is something bad happening on the island – children are going missing.
People talk of someone, a monster, stalking the island but Catrin has the darkest thoughts stalking her own mind…
Place and setting
The setting of the Falkland islands is one of the harshest and haunting ever evoked in a novel. For the setting is a major character here, shaping the people who live there, their pasts and futures and their view of the world. This world is unlike any other –
The custard of the kelp, the deep smokey blue of the water, the occasional flashes of ruby red as crabs scuttle across the sand
Located off the lower, southeastern tip of Argentina, these islands are captured in every aspect from the rocky and dangerous cliffs, the boat moorings, the sandy coves where the whales beach, the home of the xx penguins, seals and the array of wildlife that also call it their home. The beaches are the scene of a haunting rescue mission – both for the whales which beach there and the missing boys –
I can hear it cry as it feels itself dying and that is echoed by those around it. Soon the beach is filled with the sound of whales singing their last.
The village of Port Stanley where most of the characters live is vividly evoked as is Port Pleasant, home of the wreck of the Endeavour, a ship involved in the Falklands war, Wireless Ridge, Port Fitzroy and other places synonymous with the Falklands story.
So distant from everywhere that matters, so unimportant on the world stage, that for centuries it escaped just about everybody’s attention. And then it became the discarded bone over which two ego-driven dogs of politics picked a fight.
It’s not only the landscape but the history of the place that becomes part of the story. Callum is an island veteran as well as being a military one and his experience and memories of the war cloud his judgement and his mind. He is in in love with Catrin still but with his PTSD, he loses time during blackouts and flashbacks which are haunting and sad.
With the anniversary of Catrin’s boys approaching, the trap is set for revenge but it is the secrets that keep the island prisoners which will cause the greatest consequences.
Out at sea, on a remote island, where distance is the greatest enemy…
Bookish musings by Susan
Sharon Bolton has done it again. She writes with such passion and grit that I was immediately drawn into the setting. From the very first ‘scene’ with a woman out at sea, plotting the death of her former best friend, the tension and sense of foreboding never lets up, not even for a minute..
There were so many layers to this novel, not only the story of tragedy and revenge but this was also the story of the Falklands islands, the war and the effect of the war on those who lived and fought through it, the isolation of an island community, the danger of having secrets.. and the way in which death seemed to haunt every scene from the beached whales on the shore to the horror of finding a body or remains of one when searching an ancient ship wreck was just eerie.
Plotting to kill your friend and practicing by shooting the whales or hunting animals was haunting to read. Callum’s experiences of the war and of PTSD were nicely done and really helped show just what war can do to a person, the unseen horrors which linger many years later.
So much to this novel but never once was it over done, packed too tight or with too much history. The Falklands was the perfect backdrop to this story and the atmosphere was evoked with fine skill.