Book Review: Rachel Lynch – Bitter Edge (Kelly Porter book 4)

I knew as soon as I finished ‘Dead End’, the third installment in the best crime series in Cumbria, that I would need to read the next one immediately. It wasn’t that there was a cliffhanger or anything – indeed, Rachel Lynch’s writing always wraps up the story by the end and, should another book never materialise, provides a satisfying end. No, it was more that I was caught up with the characters, along with Lynch’s unique writing style, and needed more.

‘Bitter Edge’ feels more frantic than the previous books, and that has both it’s benefits and drawbacks. The good thing is that there’s always something happening, and that’s something which has run through the Kelly Porter series: Lynch never wastes a page. However, the ending felt a little rushed, and I thought that the final plot twist at the end of the case had a few more pages in it.

The story opens with Jenna Fraser falling off one of the highest peaks in the Lakes, in the middle of winter. It could be nothing more than an accident, were it not for the fact she was an experienced runner, and had been performing at a high level until a serious injury had ended that career for her. Drugs got involved and she ended up jumping off the peak herself… DI Kelly Porter then notices a link with two other drug-related suicides at the same school she goes to, and the story unravels from there.

Nedzad Galic, the criminal who appeared with his wife and son in the first book of the series, is also bag. His son, baby Dale, is now with a new foster family, but he wants him back. And he manages it – but of course, this is kidnap, so the police chase him for that. Still blaming Kelly for him losing his son in the first place, he has a lot of built-up anger and resentment….

Porter’s personal life is packed as always. Her lack of connection with Nikki since she discovered Ted the coroner was her real dad is mirrored in Nikki’s lack of screen time in the novel. Which is more than a good thing. Things are understandably awkward between her and Ted, yet their tricky new situation is dealt with carefully and realistically by Lynch, who utilises her characters’ pragmatic nature. And when the story takes a tragic turn near the end, she needs someone caring for her more than ever…

I love the relationship she has with Johnny, especially the way it develops from one book to another. Johnny’s daughter from a previous relationship, Josie, has all the potential to be a great background character in the future. The focus of her narrative being with her new family as opposed to her blood family aligns with the way she is moving on from all of the pain and trauma of the past and trying to create a happy, familial future for herself.

Although I would have preferred ‘Bitter Edge’ to be nearer the 400-page mark, it’s a rip-roaring and enjoyable thriller which leaves you thinking a lot about the subject matter it refers to. How impressionable are teenagers when it comes to drugs and bad decisions? Just how dangerous can it be when they mix adult behaviour with childish nature? As I’m becoming used to from Rachel Lynch, this is another great book from the Kelly Porter series, which if you have not already started, I really think you ought to.

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