27 February 2014

Book Review: In Too Deep by Bea Davenport

Title: In Too Deep

Author: Bea Davenport

Publisher: Legend Press

Format: Paperback

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense

Source: Publisher

In Too Deep, is a compelling mystery about a young woman trying to forget a traumatic event that happened in a small town in northern England. Maura Wood used to live in Dowerby but she ran away five years ago and is hiding in London where she started a new life using a different name. Then a determined young reporter named Paul Hollings tracked her down.

Why did Maura change her name? Why is she hiding? Why did a reporter feel compelled to find her? What happened five years ago? The reader knows that it involves the death of Maura’s friend, Kim, because this vital clue is provided at the end of the first paragraph:

The window is so small I can’t see what happens next. But what I do know is that Kim is dead. And I know this, too, that I helped to kill her. Kim, my lovely, only, best friend.

The reader is quickly drawn into the story as it alternates between Maura’s past life in Dowerby and her present life in London.

At first, Maura refuses to see the reporter but then he presents her with crucial new evidence about the incident and pleads for her side of the story. Maura reluctantly agrees. As Maura relates her story to Paul, the reader begins to piece together the sequence of events that led to Maura running away to London.

Maura’s life had been quiet and predictable in Dowerby before she met Kim. Her husband, Nick, went to work and Maura stayed home to raise Rosie, their young daughter. Maura thought she was happy with her life.Then she met the new reporter for the local paper. Kim Carter was an outsider and Maura was the only one in the small town to welcome her. Maura was an outsider too and they soon became friends. When Kim offered to train her as an assistant, Maura was thrilled. However, Maura had no idea just how much Nick resented her growing independence.

Kim was a good reporter but she was an outsider and dared to challenge Dowerby’s traditions, such as the annual Dowerby Fair. And then.her reckless behavior in her personal life provoked unintended consequences. Soon everyone in Dowerby was angry with Kim.Then Kim discovered a shocking story involving corruption. And not long after, Kim was dead. 

Now Paul has new information regarding that fateful day. Maura realizes she must return to Dowerby to make certain the truth is brought to light. But she is fearful. She is certain someone else besides Paul has found her in London.

In Too Deep is an exciting, fast-paced mystery with an intriguing plot that easily conveys the stifling atmosphere of a small town with their close-minded views and their hostile reaction to all outsiders.

The author creates an unsettling feeling of foreboding right from the start as the reader worries about the engaging characters, and is keen to learn more about what happened to Kim and find out how the situation will be resolved for Maura. The suspense builds to a very dramatic conclusion.

Bea Davenport is the writing name of former BBC and newspaper journalist Barbara Henderson.The author uses her experiences as a journalist to provide fascinating details in this novel about how reporters work. 

In Too Deep is her first novel, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Luke Bitmead Bursary.

Note: There is an author interview in the back of the book that is well-worth reading too. It’s particularly interesting to learn how Bea Davenport  was inspired to write the book.

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