That Summer he Died by Emlyn Rees

cover image

cover image

What the blurb says: On the surface, James Sawday’s got it all. An investigative journalist for a glossy men’s magazine, he gets to travel the world following adventure. And when he gets home, there’s Lucy waiting for him. Smart, funny and in love. She could even be the one. 

But when James’ editor sends him to the seaside town of Grancombe, he couldn’t have imagined what was in store. A serial killer has filled the shore with terror – the killer’s personal trophy: the victim’s hand. The third attack draws James into a world he’s spent all of his adult life trying to forget. 

Ten years before, during a hazy, drug-fuelled summer, James was one of a group of teenagers who stumbled on the mutilated corpse of local artist Jack Dawes. And then the second killing happened – the one that still gives James nightmares.

Now James has got to dig up everything he’s worked so hard to bury. And what he’s going to find out could cost him his sanity. And his life.”

This book looks beyond the traditional sea and sand getaways offered to holidaymakers, delving instead into the darker aspects of Rees’ Grancombe. The narrative alternates between James Sawday’s present – the life that he’s made for himself in London: he’s a successful journalist, has a good circle of friends and a beautiful girlfriend – and the summer he spent with his uncle ten years previously as he teetered between school and university, a summer that he’s done his best to forget.

When his editor sends James back to the place that still haunts him in his nightmares, James is determined to spend as little time as possible and speak to as few people there as he can. At first this works out well, and the article he has to write about the serial killings in the area shapes up quickly, but when he starts to connect with people from the past he finds himself sucked back into the secrets and crimes that remain unresolved and the life he has carefully built for himself begins to unravel.

Emotive and powerful, for me the question at the heart of this story is ‘what happens when a good person does bad things?’

Rees masterfully teases and hints at the horrors of the past, revealing the truth piece by piece and the tension mounts as James’ paranoia and fear escalates. High suspense and high stakes, this story reminds you that no matter how picturesque the setting, bad things can and do happen.

Rapid paced and chillingly mysterious, this is a must-read for fans of psychological thrillers.

[Thank you to C&R Crime for my kindle copy of That Summer He Died]

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