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Monday 18 September 2017

‘The Dark Isle’ by Clare Carson

Published by Head of Zeus,
1 June 2017.
ISBN: 978-178669054-8

The Dark Isle is the third book in a series featuring Sam Coyle. In this book Sam is in her early 20s and working in the Orkney Islands on an architectural dig when she spots a face from her past. Pierce, a colleague of her father, disappeared in 1976. Sam’s father and Pierce both worked for the intelligence service as spooks. The story is really a rite of passage as Sam comes to terms with the death of her father who died five years previously, tries to uncover the truth about why he was killed and whether the rumours that he was a traitor are true.

The plot alternates between two-time zones; the hot summer of 1976, when Sam was a child, and 1989 when she is twenty-three. Sam begins to question her memories and understanding of the world as a child. Underlying themes explore the legacy a parent’s behaviour leaves on their children and how growing up as the daughter of a spook makes them suspicious of everyone, struggling with relationships and constantly on their guard.

The protagonist is a story teller who loves myths and legends so as a standalone novel the reader is never quite sure whether what she is saying is actually true or all in her head. From the comments on Amazon and Goodreads about the other books in the series I think that although this can be read as a standalone novel it probably works much better as a series as the preceding books help to establish the character so that there are levels of understanding that are missing for the standalone reader.

The Dark Isle is a book that will appeal to lovers of descriptive writing rather than fast-paced twisting plots. Lengthy descriptions create a vivid sense of place between the contrasting remote wildness of Orkney and the stifling claustrophobia of London in a heat wave. And delicate touches of detail from the periods of the 1970s and 1980s will appeal to readers who can remember the eras.

Reviewer: Chris Hammercott

Clare Carson is an anthropologist who has worked for many years in international development. She lived in rural Zimbabwe when she was doing fieldwork for her PhD and has also lived and worked in the United States. She now lives on the south coast of England with her husband and two daughters. Her first book, Orkney Twilight, is a thriller about a daughter who wants to find out about her father’s life as an undercover cop.

Christine Hammacott lives near Southampton and runs her own design consultancy. She started her career working in publishing as a book designer and now creates covers for indie-authors. She writes page-turning fiction that deals with the psychological effects of crime. Her debut novel The Taste of Ash was published in 2015.

To read a review of A Taste of Ash Click on the title
twitter: /ChrisHammacott
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