Bitter Sun by Beth Lewis #bookreview

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:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

@1stMondayCrime September Panel @claremackint0sh @VickyNewham @bethklewis @lucyatkins

First Monday Crime is back after a summer break and the next panel will be at the usual venue at City University, London on Monday 3rd September 2018. First Monday Crime really is the place to be if you’re a lover of crime fiction.

I think you will agree with me that there are some top authors attending next week’s panel and I can’t wait to hear them discuss their books and their writing. So let’s take a look at who will be appearing and I will have all the info about where you can reserve your free space at the end of this post.

Let Me Lie: The Number One Sunday Times Bestseller by [Mackintosh, Clare] Clare Mackintosh

Clare Mackintosh really doesn’t need any introduction in the thriller world. I still rave about her debut novel I Let You Go whenever I’m chatting to anyone about books. I don’t think a twist in a novel has shocked me as much since I read it back in 2015. How is that three years ago? Her latest novel is Let Me Lie you can read my full review by clicking HERE and here is a little bit about what you can expect from the book.

“In her latest novel, Let Me Lie, Clare weaves an intriguing tale centering on the suicide of a young woman’s parents and her quest to find out what really happened to them. She is determined to prove that there is more to her parent’s death than what meets the eye.”

Turn a Blind Eye: A gripping and tense crime thriller with a brand new detective for 2018 (DI Maya Rahman, Book 1) by [Newham, Vicky]  Vicky Newham

Vicky Newham’s first novel Turn A Blind Eye was released earlier this year and it is the start of what promises to be a thrilling new series. It follows DI Maya Rahman who is investigating the murder of a respected head teacher. The shocking murder has taken place at the school she attended when she was growing up in London’s East End. Cryptic clues left by the killer lead the police to believe that someone form the local Buddhist community is involved. To find out more about the book you can read my full review by clicking HERE and here is a little bit about what you can expect.

Turn A Blind Eye by Vicky Newham is an intelligent and confident debut and DI Maya Rahman is a character who will keep crime fans coming back for more. Vicky has created a complex case for her lead character to get to grips with in her first novel. This book is perfect for fans of Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome series.”

Bitter Sun by [Lewis, Beth] Beth Lewis

Next up we have Beth Lewis. Beth Lewis’s second novel, Bitter Sun was released earlier in the year and it’s one I haven’t got round to reading yet but I am really excited about it. Isn’t the cover stunning? Every time I look at it it keeps taking me back to the recent heat wave.

The Night Visitor: The gripping psychological suspense of the Summer by [Atkins, Lucy] Lucy Atkins

And finally we have Lucy Atkins whose latest novel is The Night Visitor. This is another novel which has been on my TBR pile for far too long and I can’t wait to get round to finally reading it, it’s one that I have heard so many good things about.

The panel is being moderated by Rod Reynolds author of, The Dark Inside, Black Night Falling and Cold Desert Sky.

As I mentioned earlier, the event takes place at City University, London and it starts at 6.30 p.m. After the panel we’ll all be heading across the road to The Blacksmith and Toffeemaker for a drink. The nearest tube station is Angel and all you do is turn left out of the station and walk straight down St. John’s Street. You can reserve your free space by clicking the link below.