As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Headline, 28 May 2020. ISBN: 978-1-4722-6580-9 (HB)
If you’re in the mood for all-action, high-octane thrills, this book
probably isn’t the one to try. On the other hand, if you’re looking for
something that suits the slower pace of hot summer days, it just might fit the
bill. The crime at the heart of it doesn’t involve death or violence. The
damage is the emotional kind, the kind that happens when one person wields power
over another and messes not with the body but with the mind.
Lily is fifteen, part of a tightly
knit group of friends, pretty, talented, and eager as all teenagers are to grow
up and experience what she sees as the real world. She fails to appear one evening
for a gathering of their little coterie, and by next morning it is clear she’s
The other girls have no idea
where she is; none of them saw it coming, so at first it’s assumed she has been
abducted. Even Mia, the girl to whom Lily was closest, is mystified. The story
is seen through the eyes of Rachel, Mia’s mother, a teacher at the school the
girls attend. She follows the girls on their evening outings, observes them,
telling herself they need extra care and supervision – but she has picked up
clues, from things they say and from Lily’s bedroom, and realizes that she
knows exactly what has happened. But telling the police, or Lily’s parents,
would entail giving up a dark secret of her own...
It all takes place during a
heatwave, and the sultry, syrupy atmosphere, thick with swirling emotions and
uncomfortable memories, forms an almost tangible background to Rachel’s
unfolding recollections about her own past and imaginings about Lily’s fate.
The writing is lush and languorous, evoking locations and situations in detail:
memories of an apartment in northern France, descriptions of the girls’
gatherings in a local park, preparations for the annual prom, accounts of
emotional encounters past and present.
The characters are woven
almost seamlessly into the background, and only a few stand out:Graham the head teacher, efficient and
innovative; rough diamond Aaron, Mia’s boyfriend; Lily herself, naïve and
This isn’t a crime novel in
the accepted sense; rather, it’s a portrayal of the harm we do to ourselves and
to others, both by what we do and say and by what we keep to ourselves. It’s a
novel about guilt, and betrayal, and the balance of power, and that cusp time
we all go through, between child and adult.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Hazel Barkworthgrew up in Stirlingshire and
North Yorkshire before studying English at Oxford. She then moved to London
where she worked as a cultural consultant. She has an MSt in Creative Writing and the
Curtis Brown Creative Novel-Writing Course. She now works in Oxford where she lives
with her partner. Heatstroke is her first novel.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half
of them crime fiction.