We're first introduced to Detective Elin Warner in Sarah Pearse's The Sanatorium and learnt that Elin was taking leave from her job due to PTSD issue. Although she's back in this book to investigate for a new case set at an eco-wellness retreat on an island off the English coast, she's still shaken by the memories at times though she's getting better as the time goes by.
Known locally as Reaper’s Rock, the island has its fair share of horror stories due to a murder which took place years back and the curse surrounding the place. Elin is called to the retreat because a woman's body was found on the rocks below the yoga pavilion. Initial speculation is the woman fell off the pavilion due to a mishap, but she wasn't a guest and wasn't meant to be on the island at all, in which was later rectified that her visit was a surprise by a few guests who knew her. Thereafter, there's another death in the following day when a man drowned in a diving incident. It is probably not a coincidence, considering both victims come from the same circle of family and friends who stay there for some relaxation. As Elin and her partner, DC Steed, begin their investigation around the retreat, they will soon find out the complicated relationship and dynamics within the group of family/friends and also, what really happened on the island years back.
First off, the atmospheric setting was a draw and the author knows how to capture her readers' attention through this setup as a locked-room mystery, just like the same as The Sanatorium. Her cast of characters are usually intriguing though not all are likeable, but I'm fine with this as this bring out the characteristics in them. However, it took this reader a while to get familiarise with the characters in the beginning and the pace was slow, with nothing much going on except reading about the bickering and gossips among the characters. It's clear that some of them have secrets and are not honest with one another. As the story progresses, it was interesting to learn that the past murder was connected to the present so that leave readers the questions why and how?
Overall I found it to be an average read but I've to say I enjoyed reading about Elin more in this book as compared to the previous book. She's shown resilience and put aside her insecurities at times in dealing with some tough situations, though not all are wise move and could be considered reckless sometimes but it's a start away from her old self. After the sanatorium and the retreat, I wonder what setup the author has in mind for her next book.
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