I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the latest novel from Denzil Meyrick, the 8th in the DCI Daley series. And boy what a book this was!
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
Teenager Alison Doig disappeared from Kinloch over thirty years ago under mysterious circumstances. Her reclusive family still live in a remote part of the Kintyre peninsula, amidst rumours of wrecking, smuggling and barbaric cruelty.
Now rich American hotelier Alice Wenger has arrived in town, determined to punish those who made her suffer in the past. But someone has vowed to keep hidden sins concealed for ever.
Daley’s team must race against time to expose long-held secrets and shameful lies before there are any more victims.
I feel compelled to begin this review by saying Denzil Meyrick is a cruel, cruel man! For those of you who read the last book in the series (A Breath on Dying Embers) then you will know exactly what I am referring to! That is as much as I am saying on this matter!
So, Jeremiah’s Bell, the eighth in the series and quite possibly the one that has blown me away the most! From the outset the tensions are running high and my blood pressure was rising as he presented twist after twist and kept it ratcheting up right until the very last page!
When Alice Wenger arrives from America, in the small town of Kinloch trouble quickly follows but as her story unfolds it becomes clear that her own life is potentially in danger. As usual Denzil Meyrick marries past and present and connects the small town of Kinloch to a world across the ocean as he slowly unravels a dark and dangerous story.
It has to be said the fictional town of Kinloch has become character in its own right throughout the series; from its harsh winter landscape to the cast of characters inhabiting the town there is an exceptional sense of place for readers stepping into the pages. He encapsulates all the elements and minutiae of the town and brings them alive. I challenge you to read this series and not to find yourself standing on the streets of Kinloch or stepping into the bar of the County Hotel for a wee dram with Hamish or a bit of banter with Annie.
And Hamish, God love him, what would this series be without Hamish and his own special observations of life in the town and on life in general. He is one of my favourite characters, his dry wit is comedy gold but always tinged with a sense of truth and in Jeremiah’s Bell, his favourite watering hole is under threat. It is little asides like these, the goings on in the area that bring that authenticity to the series.
And talking of characters, you know how you sometimes meet some characters in books and they just cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand to attention well this is the Doig family, Kinloch’s very own answer to The Deliverance with Ma Doig, most certainly not being the type you would relish coming across on a dark night with her sons in tow!
I loved the fact that in this novel Brian Scott really comes to the fore again. Along with Hamish, Brian also brings his unique brand of humour to the series. He’s still in an acting DI position but it’s fair to say he is not particularly enjoying some of the responsibilities that come with it and he is never shy of telling his superiors exactly what he thinks of their plans. He’s such a realistic character, there’s a raw sense of truth about him that I enjoy reading. His wife, Ella, also features a little more in this novel and I love his relationship with his wife Ella, there’s a real sense of exasperation between both characters but also a deep seated affection as well.
We are taken back in time to 1925 and across the pond to New Jersey as the story unfolds, all adding to the perfectly paced drama and tension as slowly secrets are uncovered and the real truth comes spilling out. There is something so very dark about Denzil Meyrick’s writing, a malevolent shadow creeps out of every page but he balances it well with the wry Scottish humour that gives Scottish crime fiction that edge. There’s a lot about endings in this book, endings of relationships, of parts of the community folk took for granted and of course the endings of lives but even within this there is also a very warm sense of community, belonging and strength.
There is so much more I want to say about this book but I think you should read it for yourself. For fans of the series, questions will be answered, relationships will be further explored and more secrets will be unearthed. It can be read as a stand-alone in terms of the plot but you would really be doing yourself a disservice by missing out on the backstory of the principle characters.
Don’t miss it!
Jeremiah’s Bell is out on the 4th June 2020 and is available to purchase from:
and all good bookshops