Bitter Fruits – Durham – Alice Clark Platts

bitter fruits

Why a booktrail?

Life for a first year university student is a serious of challenges and new experiences. Parties, drink, going wild…..but ending up dead? You may not want to read this if you’re starting university anytime soon.

Story in a nutshell

Durham, North East England

When a first year Durham university student is found murdered at the banks of the River Wear, the whole city is in shock. Emily Brabents was from the privileged and popular set at Joyce College. A cradle for the best of their kind.

DI Erica Martin starts to investigate the crime but the more she digs, the harder the resistance she comes up against – for this is a very close-knit community where jealousy, obsession and layered secrets form the bed rock of university life.

So when someone then confesses, she doesn’t know what to make of it. For the picture of Emily emerging from the investigation is a lot more complicated than at first thought. And just who is Daniel who seems to be the only one who really really cares?

Place and setting

Prebends Bridge Where the body is found at the start of the book Framwellgate Bridge Where Emily is seen on the bridge Durham University Where most of the action is set  - in the hallowed corridors of fictional Joyce College and Nightingale College Pelaw Wood - http://www.durham-regatta.org.uk/ The Regatta starts from Prebends Bridge and ends up near Pelaw Wood New Elvet Where the police station is located
Prebends Bridge
Where the body is found at the start of the book
Framwellgate Bridge
Where Emily is seen on the bridge
Durham University
Where most of the action is set – in the hallowed corridors of fictional Joyce College and Nightingale College
Pelaw Wood http://www.durham-regatta.org.uk/
The Regatta starts from Prebends Bridge and ends up near Pelaw Wood
New Elvet
Where the police station is located

Durham, North East England – the home of a prestigious university high up overlooking the banks of the river Wear, home of the annual Durham Regatta and a beautiful place to live.

But in Bitter Fruits, the river Wear is a crime scene and the corridors of Durham University are awash with secrets, lies, cover ups and obsession.

From the moment the novel opens at the discovery of the body, Prebends Bridge flanked by bushy trees and a neat riverside walk, becomes a crime scene. The River Wear has only just been a scene of celebration for the students involved in the famous Durham Regatta weekend. The safety of the students is now a concern as it the reputation of the university itself.

DI Erica Martin has just moved to Durham so this is a new and difficult territory for her. Establishing an investigation within the confines of an enclosed academic environment is not as easy task. Fighting through the web of intrigue to get to the truth is one thing but the dubious confession is the most confusing aspect of all.

University life and the struggle of wanting and trying to fit in are gloriously and chillingly recreated. Some girls including Emily want to be like the men and prove their ‘worth’. The struggle to fit it, the ways to get noticed, the scrutiny of other students via social media. This is a harsh and bleak landscape..

First year at university should be the start of a young person’s future but sometimes as portrayed here it is a complex and slippery slope into the abyss. Social media in a traditional and academic setting makes for a contrast of values – old and new, decaying and fresh,  freedom and a sense of entrapment.

Review

Just let me take a breath here. That was quite a read!  I’m just thankful I’m not at university anymore. Now, I do realise that this is fiction, but the picture it paints of university life is not one you’d want to be involved with yourself. The backstabbing, weirdos on campus, not to mention the staff…thank goodness this is a novel. A raw stab of a read.

DI Erica Martin, new to Durham and new to the world of academia is a great character who is adept at rooting out the secrets and lies of the students she meets. You find out what she does at the same time via diary entries of Daniel, one of Emily’s fellow students, and the updates of the investigation as one leads back to another and then back again! As the picture forms, life at the university is revealed as a dark and dangerous place. What does go on in the halls of academia?

University life here is a den of cyber bulling and cyber stalking and as you’re drawn deeper into a psychological minefield, there are a lot of issues highlighted here that might just make you stop and think.

Gritty – for the police and the students – and for the reader!

2 thoughts on “Bitter Fruits – Durham – Alice Clark Platts

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