Fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent helps her erratic and beautiful mother run the Hotel Eden, a boarding house now besieged by reporters, keen for juicy gossip and eye-catching headlines. They are there because the Cornish seaside town has recently witnessed a string of murders, young girls stabbed to death. Among the newspaper jackals, Mr. Gallagher stands out. Quiet, serious Mr. Gallagher—Betty is fascinated by his mysterious nature and desperate to be noticed by him and not be treated as a child. As he and Betty get to know each other, through snatched conversation and illicit meetings, their feelings for each other grow. But she soon starts to realize how little she knows about the older, enigmatic journalist. With a dangerous cloud looming over the town, Betty starts to take risks to see him and hide secrets from her mother, her friends, and even herself—secrets that will echo through the years and affect the lives of many. Beautifully written with skilllfully drawn characters, evocative language, and set partially in 1956 with perfect period depiction, this is an astonishing tour de force from debut author Laura Powell.
This is a raw, emotionally charged tale of a mother and daughter living in the midst of serial killer invasion in their small town in Cornwall.
It’s difficult to believe this one is a debut, the writing is great and the story flows. It alternates between 1956 and 50 years later – the past being more fleshed out and interesting from my perspective. There are several twists and turns along the way which keep the pace going strong and keep the pages turning quickly.
I first picked this one up due to its comparison to one of my favorite BBC dramas, Broadchurch. While I don’t really get the same vibe here, I will say it’s still an intriguing mystery.
There are so many emotions here, fueled by an undercurrent of melancholy. It’s a story of love and obsession and regret, and how one decision can affect you for the rest of your life.
There are a couple triggers in this one, without going into spoilers, the first is a highly uncomfortable love scene. If you’d like to know the other, please feel free to message me as I don’t want to spoil anything for the other readers.
Thank you to Netgalley, Laura Powell, and Gallery Books for a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.