“The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.
That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.
Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?
DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…”
A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to my review of The Bad Place by M.K. Hill. The Bad Place was published on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats with the audio and paperback to follow. I received a free ARC of The Bad Place but that has in no way influenced my review.
M.K. Hill also writes under his full name, Mark Hill, and is the author of the DI Ray Drake series. You can check out my review of his first two books here: His First Lie and It Was Her. I thoroughly enjoyed both of his previous books so when I heard Hill was writing a new series with a new publisher I knew I had to read it. So I was delighted to win a copy of the book at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in July (as well as a voucher for Harrogate favourite, Betty’s Tea Rooms!).
I loved the sound of The Bad Place. It had a different feel to other ‘missing children’ novels (and I’ve read a few!). Twenty-six years ago a minibus full of teenagers was taken by a madman. Intent on doing something evil, Jerry Swann drove the kids to his remote farmhouse and locked them in the cellar. Six teenagers were thrown into a terrifying, life-changing situation. Five of the children managed to escape and run to safety. Becky Haskell didn’t. Becky was killed as the police tried to rescue her from Swann’s clutches. The farmhouse was aptly renamed from Baden Place to the Bad Place by the press. Now, every year, the group meet for dinner and remember Becky. But on her way to dinner, one of the original six, Lydia witnesses another teenage girl being kidnapped. Her immediate thought is that it is happening again, Jerry Swann has returned from the dead and is taking more children to the Bad Place. DI Sasha Dawson remembers the original case well. As a probationary WPC she made a promise to one of the girls which she was unable to keep and has lived with the guilt ever since. But this time she’ll do everything right and find the missing child. But the only way to rescue missing Sammi is to work out exactly what happened at the Bad Place all those years ago…
DI Sasha Dawson is a great character and I’m looking forward to reading more about her in future novels. She has a complicated home life (not helped by her incredibly frustrating and interfering mother), two moody teenagers and an emotionally distant, grieving husband. The couple suffered a terrible tragedy when their young son was mown down by a dangerous driver and despite Sasha having time to grieve for her son, Kev was more focussed on getting his wife through her pain. The reader watches as Kev falls apart but Sasha, who is consumed by work and other people’s problems, isn’t present enough to notice. This heartfelt sub-plot added to what is a great detective novel.
Being a detective novel I should mention the investigation. I liked the majority of the team and I’m hoping DC Power won’t be quite so arrogant and a little more cautious now he realises that he’s not immortal. I’m looking forward to seeing if the memory of his rather savage beating lasts into the second book – or maybe he will have left to join The National Crime Agency by then…😂. The team works well together though and they look to Sasha for guidance. I did feel they were all flailing a little at times which made me even more desperate for Karin to reveal everything (or just a little more than she was!) about the day they escaped. Karin is the lynchpin holding the group of survivors together and the one instigating and hosting the yearly memorial dinner. But the flashback scenes in the cellar show how utterly obsessed she was with Becky as a teenager. Even in the present day, Karin can’t let go of her friend and is convinced that she might, just might, still be alive. It sent shivers down my spine.
Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I’m excited to read the next book in the DI Sasha Dawson series. This was a compelling, page-turner of a novel and I heartily recommend it to fans of detective fiction (and those who just enjoy a good story).
I chose to read and review an ARC of The Bad Place. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
The Bad Place by M.K. Hill was published in the UK by Head of Zeus on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |
I’m MK to some, and Mark to others…
I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR.
But I write now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.
I’m on Facebook. If you like any of my books, if you’re interested in keeping up to date with news, events and giveaways – everything Dawson and Drake, basically – then head to my author page and, you know, ‘like’ the page.
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The Bad Place, His First Lie and It Was Her are out now as in ebook and paperback —from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, all the usual places.