Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones

Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones (July 2013, Orchard Books, ISBN: 1408327546)

Dead Jealous is the first book in the Poppy Sinclair thriller series and is set in the Lake District. Poppy is sixteen and has come with her mum and step-dad Jonathan to an alternative/new-age festival on the shores of Scariswater where her mum and Jonathan are to have a handfasting ceremony. They are regular attendees to the annual festival but of late Poppy doesn't believe in the pagan ways.

Poppy is in love with her best-friend Michael but he has a girlfriend and to protect herself, Poppy has been turning away from him. At the festival she meets the gorgeous, slightly older, Tariq – can he take her mind off Michael?

On the first night Poppy seeking seclusion climbs a hill and meets Beth. Beth is looking for a girl she's in love with – Maya – who hasn't been seen since last year's event. Though Poppy and Beth only meet briefly, they connect and so when Poppy discovers Beth's dead body in the lake she knows it was murder. The police think it's an accident and despite Poppy's assertion that it wasn't, do very little. So it's up to Poppy, with occasional help from Michael, to get to the bottom of things.

One of my favourite adult crime series is Martin Edwards's Lake District mysteries so I was very much looking forward to Dead Jealous and I wasn't disappointed. Good use is made of the setting – both the countryside with its erratic mobile phone signal reception, and the new age festival including tarot reading and sweat tents. Poppy is haunted by Beth and Maya – possibly in more than just a manner of speaking as it's left to the reader to choose whether there's something supernatural going on or whether it's just that Poppy is under a lot of strain. As Poppy works through the mysteries she also resolves some personal issues. I'm very much looking forward to the sequel, Dead Silent, which is set in another of my favourite places (Cambridge) and is out in February 2014.

NB. As Poppy is sixteen, there are some references to sex, some F-words and there are some drug mentions as well (plus a few dead bodies!).

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