“Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.
A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.
Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.
Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…”
I was absolutely delighted to discover that Elodie Harper is one of the authors appearing at November’s ‘First Monday Crime’ event in London on Monday 6th November because it gave me the excuse (absolutely NO excuse needed) to read her debut, The Binding Song. The Binding Song has been on my radar for some time now. It was published by Mulholland Books in eBook and hardcover format earlier this year. The paperback is due to be launched in February 2018 so keep an eye out for that.
As Autumn fades and Winter approaches it’s that time of year when I want to dive into a creepy, gothic thriller and fictitious HMP Halvergate in Norfolk provided the most perfect of settings to do that. What a beautifully atmospheric and creepy story, one where I never really felt sure I knew exactly what was going on. Even the sceptic in me believed in ghosts at one point during Harper’s haunting tale. I felt apprehensive from the very first page and discovered a delightful ominous edge to Harper’s writing which had me hooked.
Dr Janet Palmer is the newly appointed forensic psychologist at the remote Norfolk-based Halvergate prison. Halvergate is nothing like the prison she worked at before in London but the promotion seemed worth upping sticks for and moving away from her partner, Arun, and their comfortable life together. Colleagues at the prison are distant and unfriendly, the prisoners are threatening and violent and Janet now feels very much alone. Janet is made aware of an alarming increase in the number of suicides on D Wing – an occurrence which started under Dr Helkin’s care, and something she is keen to call a halt to. But on starting work she discovers no one wishes to speak of her predecessor. And Janet is approaching her caseload blind as all of Helkin’s notes seem to be missing. She knows nothing about the deviant, sexual predators she faces on a daily basis and one particular prisoner both intrigues and repels her. And what of the White Visitor, a pale black-eyed woman who is said to visit certain prisoners shortly before they take their own lives. It’s down to Dr Palmer to uncover Halvergate’s secrets before more prisoners die and before the White Visitor comes to visit Janet…
As the story progresses you discover more about Janet and her tragic past. The reader is given flashbacks into her teenage years and the heartache she and her family experienced. At times I wondered why Janet would want to work in the prison service but as the story progressed and I was given more of an insight into her past, it all started to make sense. Janet’s only friend in Norfolk is the prison chaplain, Steve. Their relationship was interesting if a little stilted. The friendship started to blossom only to be nipped in the bud by Janet’s frightening discoveries. Knowing these two characters were friends but also so very alone created an eerie sense of isolation which sent shivers down my spine.
Would I recommend this book? I would and I’m looking forward to reading more from Elodie Harper in the future. It’s a surprisingly creepy read with a breath-taking atmospheric feel at its core. Ominous, tense and chock full of suspense.
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and review a copy of The Binding Song. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
The Binding Song by Elodie Harper was published in the UK by Mulholland Books on 29th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow in February 2018) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |
Don’t forget to book your FREE place to see Elodie Harper alongside Stuart McBride, Simon Booker and Vaseem Khan with moderator Barry Forshaw on Monday 6th November at 6.30pm in Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket. To find out more about the November panelists and to read the first chapter of their latest books, click HERE.
Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, run by The Guardian and Hodder & Stoughton and judged by Stephen King. She is currently a reporter and presenter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. She is married with a young son
Author Links: | Twitter |