Two years ago, Leo Fenton went missing. Despite his body never being found, his brother, Ben was charged and convicted with his murder, although he has consistently denied any involvement. Now, a body has been found, in a newly-dug grave, close to the home of Ben’s girlfriend, Ana Seabrook. Who put it there and, if it is Leo, where has it been for the past two years? It is up to DCI Jansen and his team to try to make sense of what happened two years ago, and discover whether Ben has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
From the start, I was convinced of Ben’s innocence, and felt that this was an incredibly well-planned murder with Ben being made the scapegoat. But why? This was the question I constantly asked myself, and I particularly enjoyed the chapters set prior to the disappearance of Leo as I tried to fathom out what happened that led to the event.
I had a lot of sympathy for Ana, whose life is turned upside down once the body is discovered. With the police convinced that she knows more than she is letting on and her paranoia that she is being watched, a claustrophobic atmosphere is created and you begin to genuinely fear for her safety. Although the secret she is hiding wasn’t that difficult to figure out, it did, again, make me ask questions as I wondered if this was what set off the chain of events.
This is one of those books where you know that one of the characters you meet along the way is going to end up playing a bigger role than you initially thought, and Rachael Blok has done a good job in adding several characters who could, potentially, be this person. Being convinced of Ben’s innocence, two characters in particular stood out to me, my suspicions wavering between the two throughout the book. With numerous secrets being hidden, either of these characters could have been the guilty party!
The Scorched Earth is a great thriller, with some very tense moments, and one that I enjoyed a great deal. I was not aware that the detective, DCI Maarten Jansen had appeared in a previous book, Under the Ice, but I will definitely be looking out for this one now!
WIth thanks to Head of Zeus and Net Galley for my copy and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.