This is another book I’ve been desperate to get to over the last couple of years and I’m so glad I’ve finally read it.
It all started when we found the body.
Then nothing was ever the same.
The Dry meets Stand by Me and True Detective in this stunningly written tale of the darkness at the heart of a small mid-Western town and the four kids who uncover it.
In the heatwave summer of 1971, four kids find a body by a lake and set out to solve a murder. But they dig too deep and ask too many questions.
Larson is a town reeling in the wake of the Vietnam draft, where the unrelenting heat ruins the harvest, and the people teeter on the edge of ruin.
As tension and paranoia run rife, rumours become fact, violence becomes reflex. The unrest allows the dark elements of the close-knit farming community to rise and take control.
And John, Jenny, Gloria and Rudy are about to discover that sometimes secrets are best left uncovered…
Bitter Sun is the incredible new novel by Beth Lewis, and now I can see why it had so much praise when it was released a couple of years ago.
This is a haunting, heart-wrenching book with a cast of characters who will stay with you. And honestly, that ending, I finished this book at the weekend and I still think it’s going to take me a few more days to get over it.
It all starts with the body. On a hot summer’s day in 1971, four children happen across the body of a young woman abandoned by a lake where they usually hang out. The discovery haunts them all. As the police investigation into the woman’s murder begins, they too, decide to hunt the killer down. But they have no idea what impact this discovery will have on the rest of their lives. It will be a summer the four of them will never forget.
Beth Lewis has created a cast of characters here who felt so real. The person who appears to be the leader of the group is John Royal. Alongside him there’s his sister, Jenny, then there’s Gloria and Rudy. As Beth Lewis begins to peel back the layers of this seemingly forgotten town in America, you can see the darkness that is hidden beneath. The kids soon begin to scratch that layer. Beth Lewis explores dark themes, and as the children begin to grow closer to uncovering the truth, I began to fear for their lives. It didn’t seem that they were willing to stop, even though they didn’t know the woman who they found personally. It seemed that they were steering closer and closer to danger.
John and his sister live a particularly tough life. They live with their mother, referred to in the book as Big Momma. Their father isn’t around, and their mother often brings men back home and is addicted to drinking. John knows he has to protect his sister as his mother seems to have taken an intense disliking to her. Her personality switches and they can never be sure how she is going to react when they are with her.
John strikes up a friendship with the local Pastor. Although John isn’t particularly religious, you can see that he appreciates the sessions that he has and that he views the Pastor as a close friend who he can rely on. But there was something about the Pastor that made me think twice about him.
If you’ve had this book on your TBR pile for a while now, as I have, then you need to bump it to the top. Beth Lewis’s writing is so engaging. The characters are what make this book. I became so engaged in their lives, and I was sad to close the book. Beth Lewis has definitely left me wondering what they’re all up to now. This is a powerful crime novel that will leave you reeling. Highly recommended!
Publisher: The Borough Press
Publication date: 14th June 2018
Print length: 464 pages
Bitter Sun is available to buy: