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Monday 31 August 2020

‘Innocent’ by Erin Kinsley

Headline Publishing Group,
20 August 2020.
ISBN: 978-1472274281

The novel opens with a glimpse into the private life of Tristan and Izzy Hart as they prepare to attend a wedding at which their daughter, Flora, will be a bridesmaid.  The couple are portrayed as being deeply in love and enjoying family life in a home that provides nurture and safety for their little girl.  Tristan is a television host whose celebrity status has gone from strength to strength.  He is admired not only for his professional success but also for his personal integrity.  His good looks, charm and wealth have not turned his head and he clearly still adores his wife.  Friends and acquaintances who live near them in Sterndale attest to the Hart’s affability and appreciate their support for those in the local community. 

At the wedding reception the Harts meet up with two of their closest friends from the town, Aiden and Laura Ridley.  Aiden is an ex-police officer who retired from the West Mercia Constabulary on medical grounds after being injured on duty.  He now runs a cycling shop, indulging his passion for the sport.  As the evening draws on Tristan takes a sleepy Flora to the car park where her nanny, Bridget, is waiting to take his daughter home.  Izzy becomes anxious when Tristan doesn’t return after an hour so Aiden offers to look for his friend who is constantly being waylaid by adoring fans.  His search leads him to the hotel garden where he meets a police officer with the shocking news that Tristan has been violently assaulted and is being taken to hospital.

So begins a police investigation during which the lives of Izzy, Tristan, Laura and Aiden are turned upside down.  The certainties which they thought defined their respective marriages and their friendship are eroded as the investigating officers discover secret after secret buried not only in the past but in the present too.

Erin Kinsley writes beautifully and has produced a mystery novel that is both heart-breaking and hopeful.  Central to the narrative are the revelations that issue from an investigation that almost destroys Izzy as she keeps vigil at her stricken husband’s bedside.  The characters are complex and interesting, they invite empathy as well as suspicion.  The story’s resolution was unexpected and moving. 

Innocent is a super book that fuses police procedural with a forensic exploration of contemporary human relationships.  I was captivated by the lives of the protagonists and couldn’t put the novel down until I had reached the surprising and emotionally charged ending. 
Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Erin Kinsley is a full-time writer. She grew up in Yorkshire and currently lives in East Anglia.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

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