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DC Connie Childs #2

A Deadly Thaw

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A man whose killer—his wife—was convicted 15 years ago is discovered freshly murdered in this rivetingly suspenseful mystery from critically acclaimed author Sarah Ward.

Lena Grey is found guilty of murdering her husband, who was found smothered in their bed. She offers no defense, and serves fourteen long years in prison. But within months of her release nearly two decades later, his body is found in a disused morgue, recently killed. Who was the man she killed before, and why did she lie about his identity?

Detective Inspector Francis Sadler and his Derbyshire team try to discover how such a well-orchestrated deception could have occurred. DC Connie Childs is convinced that something greater than marital strife caused the murders, but before Lena can be questioned further, she vanishes. Back in Lena’s childhood home, her sister Kat, a therapist, is shocked by her sister’s duplicity. When she begins to receive mysterious packages from a young man claiming to know her sister’s location, Kat is drawn into her own investigation of her family’s well-hidden secrets. As her inquiries begin to collide with the murder investigation, a link to the sisters’ teenage lives emerges, and the line between victim and perpetrator becomes blurred in this tightly-plotted, compelling novel perfect for fans of Deborah Crombie and Sharon Bolton.

384 pages, Paperback

First published August 30, 2016

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Sarah Ward

7 books250 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 209 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,709 reviews25k followers
February 7, 2017
This is a wonderfully chilling twister of a crime novel, the second in the DI Francis Sadler series set in Derbyshire. It is the first book I have read by Sarah Ward and it works fine as a standalone. It begins with Francis looking at a murder victim shot within a disused mortuary. He recognises the man as Andrew Fisher, whose wife, Lena Gray, has completed a prison sentence for killing him. This opens a real can of worms, who was the man that Lena killed? Where has Andrew Fisher been all these years? How come so many people, including the police, failed to make the correct identification at the time? Who has murdered Andrew Fisher now?

Sadler leads a murky investigation, aided by the style conscious DS Damian Palmer and the tenacious DC Connie Childs. Lena's sister, Kat, a therapist, tries to work out what is going on with Lena when she goes missing. Kat gives us a historical insight into her relationship with Lena as teenagers. This is a case that follows numerous leads that takes in secrets, misunderstandings, predators, and which goes back in time when many police officers had repugnant attitudes and refused to view certain crimes as serious. All this led to a perfect storm of repercussions that through the years results in murders, suicide and other misdeeds. In the present, the past brings danger to those currently investigating the case.

The author does a terrific job in bringing to life the characters in the police team and the relationships between them. This novel is really a hybrid of police procedural and psychological thriller. It is well plotted and creates high levels of suspense and tension. The short chapters and the excellent writing never fail to keep the reader engaged. The inclusion of Kat's storyline brings us closer to Lena and a human understanding of the motives behind her actions. This is definitely a series that I can recommend. Thanks to Faber and Faber for an ARC.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,077 reviews59k followers
November 21, 2016
A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward is a 2016 Minotaur publication.

What an interesting set up. Sadler, Palmer and Connie have their hands full with this one, as the case loops back to 2004 and back again to 2016 in alternate turns.

I love British mysteries, and so have certain criteria I’ve come to expect from them. Ward does an amazing job at creating that atmosphere I love so much about the genre, but adds a very fresh and modern twist to it, which is nice to see.

This review is the copyrighted property of Night Owl Reviews. To read the entire review, click on this link:
Profile Image for Diana | Book of Secrets.
798 reviews596 followers
November 16, 2016
This is the second book in a series, centering around Inspector Francis Sadler and his detectives. A very intriguing mystery here, but be prepared to suspend disbelief to make it work.

The set up was good. The body of a murdered man is found in an abandoned morgue, except everyone thought he had died over a decade earlier. In fact, his wife had only recently been released from prison for committing the original murder. So, who was the first victim, and why would she lie about him being her husband? Then when she disappears, it's up to her sister Kat to help police figure the whole thing out.

This was an okay police procedural, just kind of hard to believe once the big secret is revealed. The last third or so of the book seemed to drag, probably could have wrapped up quicker after learning the who and why. I enjoyed Kat's character, but the others seem to blend together. It might have helped to have read the first book and already known the backstory of the cast.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,230 reviews1,563 followers
September 16, 2016
Lena Grey had been found guilty of murdering her husband and spent over a decade in prison for the murder. Lena hadn't offered any defense for the murder and served her time but when she is released now years later a body turns up freshly murdered and it turns out it's really Lena's husband.

Now DI Francis Sadler and his team need to find out who it was that died years before and why Lena had never spoken up about the identity. DC Connie Childs is convinced there is more to what is going on than what they have gotten from Lena. With a new murder and an old crime to solve the family's secrets and lies are found at every turn.

A Deadly Thaw was not really a bad read at all but I had a couple of issues with this one that just kept me from really connecting with it and enjoying myself while reading. The first problem I had right off the start was due to the formatting of my review copy which has nothing to do with the actual story but put my mood off to have to wade through figuring out this story. It was as if the space bar was missing in this one so huge parts were all ran together so obviously this wasn't fun to deal with.

But, even if I tried to ignore the issues reading I still think I may have been at a bit of a disconnect with the story regardless. This is actually a part of a series and I wasn't expecting that when I picked it up but just starting off it felt there may be some depth I'd missed which happens sometimes when joining.

Overall, not a bad read at all it just didn't turn out to be my cup of tea at the moment althoug I'm sure some others will love this police procedural/thriller read.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
Profile Image for ReadsSometimes.
218 reviews55 followers
September 30, 2016
Every secret has consequences.

Autumn 2004
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.

Spring 2016
A year after Lena's release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.

Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth - before there's another death . . .

This book is a brilliant read! It had me engrossed from the beginning to the end. It's haunting, intriguing, chilling, and most of all, written with passion, knowledge, and finesse.

It has a unique and cleverly plotted storyline with mainly very strong and interesting characters. In saying this, a certain character I didn't gel with it all. Every time this character arrived in the story, they came across very false and quite unbelievable. This didn't spoil my enjoyment of this cracking crime thriller, though, and it kept me turning those pages!

I'm looking forward to more from, Sarah Ward. A beautiful writer!

A solid 4* and highly recommended!!
Profile Image for Andrea.
586 reviews
January 3, 2019
Really disappointed with this read as I really enjoyed book one and waiting a while to get this book on offer.the storyline was slow average read for me hope next book in this series is better.did enjoy short chapters and love connie character.
February 7, 2017
Sarah Ward's first book, In Bitter Chill, was one of the most notable debuts of 2015 and this assured follow-up is once again a meaty police procedural fused with an insightful psychological element which readers will devour. Intelligent and engaging, A Deadly Thaw recognises that once again the past will never stay buried for long and a crime is never simply an isolated incident, but intrinsically related to a much bigger story of the wounds of the past. Blending the best of two distinct genres, Sarah Ward achieves a depth that is so often devoid from routine police procedurals with an admirable emotional consideration. As Derbyshire remains firmly in the grip of winter, the merciless refusal of spring to break echoes the reluctance of the past to divulge the closely protected secrets of rural Bampton, leaving DI Francis Sadler and his team frustrated bystanders.

Ward captures her readers attention from the first moment with a premise guaranteed to intrigue: a misidentified corpse from 2004 that has since been cremated, with a positive identification provided at the time by the supposed dead man's wife... Reporting husband, Andrew Fisher, dead in 2004 closer analysis reveals foul play and wife Lena Gray quickly concedes her part in his demise. So when DI Francis Sadler finds himself at the mothballed Hale's End Mortuary in 2016 only to be confronted by the body of schoolmate Andrew Fisher, the very same man who Lena so readily identified in 2004, he recognises just what a monumental procedural breach it represents. Posing an array of questions, not least why Lena Gray conceded her guilt so readily and went on to serve over ten years in a high-security prison. Just where has Andrew Fisher been for the past twelve years and whose body was actually cremated in the 2004 case? When the recently released Lena seems unfazed by the police attention her ice-cool demeanour and enigmatic silences are followed by her swift disappearance, leaving sister and therapist, Kat, coming to terms with the fact that she knew very little about her older sister. As as range of mysterious parcels supposedly delivered on behalf of Lena find their way to Kat and leave her nonplussed, she finds herself reconsidering her family life and confiding in client, Mark Astley. When a body fitting the description of Lena is found washed up on the banks of a river it's subsequent identification as a former teenage friend of the Gray sisters who bears a remarkable likeness to Lena quickly ensures that Sadler and his team come to realise the fallout is still ongoing and they have stumbled into a very big mess indeed.

Threatening to see heads role, the case has obvious implications for DI Francis Sadler, pathologist Dr Bill Shields and Superintendent Llewelyn, all of whom were part of the old regime that had a role in the 2004 investigation, ensuring an undercurrent of tension bristles throughout the entire novel. With reputations at stake, DS Damian Palmer and DC Connie Childs have a chance to push ahead in their rivalry for Sadler's favour, but when it comes down to loyalties, it is the tenacious Connie who wears her heart of her sleeve and goes the extra mile for the career she has long aspired to. Compassionate and full of integrity, DI Francis Sadler is blessed with a failure to ever be surprised by the discoveries he makes in the course of work. His encouragement and leadership receives the reward of a tight-knit unit and his desire to understand matters often sees him seek out the opinions of his older sister, Camilla, who simultaneously seems hellbent on finding her brother a single girlfriend! The lifeblood of this series, however, is the diminutive DC Connie Childs, a fiercely intelligent local girl who questions everything, never taking anything for granted with the determination that make her character readers will champion. In contrast to the self-assured DS Damian Palmer, Connie's empathy and warmth make her a natural port of call for colleagues and witnesses alike, with a down to earth appeal to her manner and interaction. Thinking ahead and drawing her own conclusions, Connie is often the focal point for Ward's narrative and encourages independent thinking which effortlessly draws readers into a compelling mystery. Contrary to many authors who opt for the information overload, Sarah Ward never underestimates her readers, appreciating that every crime fiction reader is an amateur sleuth at heart, and a slow reveal beats being bombarded with information anytime.

Characterised by short chapters which leave readers on the cusp of a discovery, Ward's readable style and dry humour allows her to transition effortlessly between the central characters and pivotal moments. The dialogue is a blend of jocular camaraderie and gallows humour, but all the while retaining a focus on the matter in hand and questioning with an eye to ascertaining the facts, never falling back on formulaic and lazy police banter. Sarah Ward's passion and knowledge of her Derbyshire home ensures she brings the fictional community of Bampton alive as she recounts a story with an acknowledgment of the areas military history, the changing demographic and urbanisation of the region, right through to the mothballed mortuary's more recent use as a local haunt for teenage tearaways. A Deadly Thaw is a gratifying puzzling case with a keen social conscience, elevating Ward to the highest echelons of crime fiction writing. Sarah Ward is putting her stamp on the crime world, and indeed pushing Derbyshire to new heights. Broader in scope than In Bitter Chill, she has delivered a more complex investigation which necessitates a thorough understanding of historic procedures. Her appreciation for the evolution of police procedures and the safeguards that have made so much more bureaucracy essential is remarkably well conveyed, particularly in regard to the days before the Crown Prosecution Service was established in 1986 and prosecution was a decision for the police alone. Astute and polished, Ward recognises that the burden of guilt is never easily assigned, and that perpetrators might also be victims of their own wrongs. A Deadly Thaw is an enthralling mystery, both powerful and thought-provoking, unravelled superbly by a brilliantly well-defined cast of characters.

A Deadly Thaw also reads well as a standalone novel for readers new to this series and comes very highly recommended indeed!
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,470 reviews1,007 followers
May 7, 2016
Another excellent fairly new voice on the crime scene, Sarah Ward has written a proper page turner, a great psychological/police procedural mash up and like "In Bitter Chill" this was a top crime read.

Bit early for a full on review but a 2016 spotlight will appear on the blog soonish.

If you are a crime fan put this one on your wishlists.

Profile Image for Paul.
888 reviews71 followers
September 6, 2016
A Deadly Thaw – A Deeply Dark Thriller

Sarah Ward has followed up her highly acclaimed debut thriller In Bitter Chill with the deeply twisted A Deadly Thaw. Once again Sarah Ward uses the best of British crime writing and mixes it up with the darkness of Nordic Noir. Once again the story is told from the view of a team of detectives from Derbyshire Constabulary and a character that has been caught up in their investigation.

In 2004 Lena Fisher is sentenced for murdering her husband in bed while he slept and she serves ten years in prison before being released, a murder that she confessed to doing. After her release she move back to Brampton and shares her childhood home with her sister Kay. When Lena’s husband, the one she has served a sentence for murdering, turns up in a disused World War One morgue, questions are being asked to who did she kill?

After the Police have informed Lena, and then Kay, Lena disappears and her sister keeps receiving clues which she does not understand. At the same time the police are trying to find out what actually happened in 2004 and start kicking over stones that uncover unwanted but required information about Andrew Fisher.

Kay is worried about what has happened to her sister and is trying to put everything together especially as she keeps receiving clues that are delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. With the help of one her clients, Mark, she starts to ask questions, but she does not seem to be going anywhere, until she views a picture of her and Lena back in the late 1980s.

The Police are under pressure, especially after the mis-identification of Andrew Fisher, they need to discover who Lena actually murdered. What they discover shakes a lot of apples from the trees, especially when their Superintendent is watching closely what happens and seems to be holding something back from his team.

What we see in this book is Sarah Ward questioning of how the police over the years have investigated crimes against women, and challenging the old thinking, which is still bubbling under the surface. What we see is our team of three detectives, Sadler, Palmer and Connie, trying to contain their anger at colleagues from the past, while dealing with current problems under pressure on all sides.

What A Deadly Thaw delivers for the reader are three detectives having to look back so that they can look forward and find Lena, and discover what happened. While Kay is trying everything she can to find out more about her sister, whom she seems to have really stopped understanding when they were teenagers. The question is can Kay remain safe while there is a murderer on the loose and is that murderer her own sister?

Sarah Ward delivers a wonderfully twisted and dark thriller, set in the bleak thaw of winter and the coming spring in Derbyshire. As a reader you are left guessing as to what will happen not only to Kay and Lena, while seen the conflicts within the police investigation. Ward gives you the hook and draws you in and keeps you on the line all the way to the end, and delivers a fantastic thriller.
Profile Image for Sue.
2,729 reviews221 followers
August 12, 2021
Wasn’t a fan.

This one slipped down on my TBR pile from Netgalley and I don’t exactly know why. I’m thinking maybe because this was book 2 in the series and I intended to get my hands on book 1.

I loved the premise about the book most probably why I requested it back then. Since then I’ve really taken a break from Detective/police procedures for a while. That could account for my lack of enjoyment.

Like I say, the right up looked good but it dragged so much in the middle I swapped up to audio book to speed up.
Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,564 reviews173 followers
August 8, 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Sarah Ward is professional in her writing and a pleasure to read. "A Deadly Thaw" was well balanced between police procedural and its characters - of which i found believable and interesting. The story had me engrossed and from the very first page I wanted to keep reading. It was easy to follow and I particularly enjoyed the twists and surprises in the story. I would happily recommend this book to anyone and will certainly be looking to read more by Sarah.
Profile Image for CL.
646 reviews29 followers
September 26, 2016
This is my first book by Sarah Ward and it was a great read and I did not feel like I could not follow along because I had not read her first book. Lena’s husband is murdered and she has just finished serving her time for his murder him by smothering when his body turns up shot. Now Lena’s sister Kat and an investigator are trying to piece together what really happened and who was the man in Lena’s bed all those years ago. I would like to thank the Publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this ARC.
Profile Image for Karen.
896 reviews484 followers
February 6, 2017
This is one of my favourite crime series and the second book in the series to feature DI Francis Sadler and is again set in Derbyshire. I read the first, In Bitter Chill and was very much looking forward to A Deadly Thaw – it definitely lived up to expectations.

Lena Fisher served 10 years in prison for the murder of her husband Andrew. After her release, a body, later identified as being Andrew Fisher, is found in a disused mortuary. Questions are then asked as to the identity of the man Lena was found guilty of killing. What follows is a story of mistaken identity and a catalogue of police errors going back decades which Sadler and his team must try to untangle.

Lena’s sister Kat, a therapist, who lives with Lena in the decrepit and crumbling family home, also gets involved in her own investigations as to the whereabouts of Lena and has to place her trust in a stranger. Someone is passing ‘gifts’ to her, supposedly from Lena, the meaning of which Kat is apparently meant to work out.

In this story, DC Connie Fisher has a larger part to play. As a police officer, she really is an excellent character – whilst extremely competent and principled, she also has a reckless and impulsive side to her – this comes across in both her professional and personal life. She is now a much valued and trusted member of Sadler’s team – even more so it seems than colleague DS Damian Palmer, who despite now being married, still appears to be a bit of a pratt!

The plotting here is superb and as with the first novel, there is a great sense of place. It’s not a fast action packed read, but more of a quiet and considered one and very much character based. There are various strands to follow – murder, suicide, and historic sexual crimes and I kept changing my mind over to trust and who to suspect. With so many threads and characters, it could have become confusing but the deft hands of the author ensured that all the threads eventually come together to a form a suspenseful and dramatic conclusion. A particular aspect that Sarah Ward explores in A Deadly Thaw is the way in which police investigated certain crimes reported by women. There has been a misguided and frankly appalling approach over decades and Sadler is disgusted by what he sees as a cover up. It is clear that some information is being held back at senior level – information which could affect his current case and Sadler is not happy.

I really enjoy this series and look forward to the third, which I believe will be titled A Patient Fury, and released in September 2017. The combination of crime thriller and police procedural is very well done without one overshadowing the other. Sarah Ward is definitely a crime author to follow. Don’t be put off if you haven’t read the first book, in my opinion this one works very well as a standalone.
Profile Image for Emma.
601 reviews277 followers
February 21, 2017
It’s 2004 and Lena Fisher is a murderer. After welcoming her husband home and spending some hot, sweaty time in their bed together, Lena suffocates her husband with a pillow. She’s eventually arrested, stands trial and ends up in prison for 10+ years. Fast forward to 2016 where Lena is a free woman once again. She returns to her childhood home; Providence Villa – a large, crumbling, Victorian estate. Her parents are long dead but she has her estranged sister, Kat for company. Lena isn’t surprised when DC Connie Childs and DS Palmer turn up on her doorstep, after all she is a convicted felon. What she isn’t expecting is for them to inform her that her husband’s body has discovered in a disused morgue. That he is very recently deceased with a gaping chest wound and that they know the man Lena killed in 2004 wasn’t her husband. Will DC Childs and DS Palmer be able to uncover the complicated truth? When Lena goes on the run, Kat struggles to understand what is happening and exactly who her sister is. Kat’s muddle is not helped when a teenage boy, who claims to be a friend of Lena’s, starts leaving cryptic clues for Kat. Who will be the first to solve a mystery that dates back many years. And is Kat’s life in danger? Is she the only one….?

A Deadly Thaw is an excellent example of how to write a gripping, multilayered, character focussed crime thriller. It’s full of secrets, family tension and bucket loads of suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be making a point of downloading the first in the series, In Bitter Chill to my Kindle immediately after finishing writing this review.

Author Sarah Ward has been on my radar for a while now. I remember seeing the reviews for A Deadly Thaw back in the Summer and being intrigued. And who wouldn’t be drawn in by that brilliant blurb. Some authors you read because…well, just because really. Other authors you read because you know deep down, that their words, their story and you will be a brilliant fit. That’s exactly how I felt about A Deadly Thaw.

I don’t know where to begin with DC Connie Childs. You can probably guess that I absolutely loved her. Yes, there are two male detectives who work alongside Connie. Yes, they are also brilliantly written, essential characters. But, for me, they faded into the background. She’s the first character in a while that I’ve found to be relatable. OK, so the fawning over DS Palmer I probably could have done without but it gave an incredibly strong character a necessary weak spot (which probably made me feel for her just a little bit more). I loved the get up and go attitude, I loved the fire in her belly when it came to the treatment of the victims, I even loved her naivety – something which would drive me quite loopy in other characters. Although DI Sadler led the investigation, I felt at times that there wouldn’t BE an investigation if it wasn’t for Connie. She’s definitely high on my favourite character list and I can’t wait to see where Sarah Ward takes her in future.

I found the setting to be suitably creepy and loved the eerie feel of Sarah Ward’s Derbyshire (I’m terrible at geography and have to admit to consulting a map of England to discover where Derbyshire is. Yes, I am British. Yes, I live and have always lived in England/UK/GB. Yes, I feel suitably ashamed!) Whitby also features heavily in the book and that also needed investigation as to its location (rubbish at geography!). Ward paints such a vivid picture of these grey, dank places that I can’t help but want to go and see them for myself. Bampton, Derbyshire felt like a living, breathing character. Strangely mesmirising.

The plot has many different strands to it and at times it is hard to see how they will tie together. But tie together they do in an explosive, nail-biting conclusion. At times, I found myself getting quite upset by the stories unfolding in front of me. I experienced anger as well, at the injustice and poor treatment of the victims. It’s quite a shocking and unsettling read, but oh so good!

Would I recommend this book? Of course I would! But prepare yourself for a lot more than you expect. Sarah Ward knows how to tell a brilliant story and I can’t wait to read more from her. Dark, creepy and highly addictive (and I may be a little bit in love with DC Connie Childs).

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of A Deadly Thaw. Many thanks to Faber & Faber and NetGalley for providing me with a copy. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for Stephen Clynes.
536 reviews32 followers
April 14, 2017
This mystery is set in a fictional Derbyshire small town called Bampton and has people asking the question why? Follow both the police and the residents as they try to solve the mystery over a number of deaths.

This book does thaw, like the title suggests but rather than deadly it is more like a sliced loaf that has been left to thaw overnight on your kitchen counter. It has lots of short chapters which make it reader friendly, in the same way as sliced bread is toast friendly. But that is a problem as these short chapters usually end with a cliff hanger and the next chapter involves another character, leaving you at a loss. Also the format of this novel is not linear and it drops back in time repeatedly before returning to the present day. Then we have a small amount of adultery between the police officers, which is another of my pet hates. Although there are sexual issues involved in this novel, there is no gritty sex to reward the reader.

There is no specialist police work is solving these mysteries around Bampton, making A Deadly Thaw a character led novel. The chapters flit from character to character and this uneven flow made me unable to develop an empathy for any character.

I found this book a frustrating read, the cliff hangers, the time shifting and poor characterisation. Why could Sarah have not featured a real town in Derbyshire to add some realism or local interest to her sorry tale? She featured Whitby and that is very real. I found the pace slow and the whole mystery dragged on and on through the years. One character really enjoyed dragging this story out and was proud to claim "You of all people should know that everything can't be told." and "Then it's all been for nothing."

I think A Deadly Thaw is a tiresome tale with no humour to brighten it up, the best in the whole story possibly being...

He parked in one of the small gravelled areas used by walkers to leave their vehicles. One couple, returning from a hike, gave a condescending look towards Kat's trainer-clad feet. She felt like shouting that she was a local and could wear what the hell she wanted, but what was the point of adding to the prickle of tension she already felt.

...So sorry Sarah, but I found your novel a POOR 2 star read as it did NOT rock my boat.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Faber & Faber for giving me a copy of this book on the understanding that I provide an honest review.
Profile Image for Raven.
730 reviews210 followers
October 1, 2016
You know that old adage about the difficult second book? Well, come closer and I’ll let you into a secret. Following Sarah Ward’s compelling debut In Bitter Chill I’m going to boldly state that this one is even better. There, I’ve said it. Gauntlet thrown down for those foolish enough to challenge me. From the very outset I was completely hooked by this dark, suspenseful tale of Derbyshire folk, so read on and find out why…

What Ward achieves so well in this book is a perfect symmetry between the strength of her plotting and her razor sharp characterisation. The basic twist in the story upon which the whole book is played out is devilishly good, and as a long time crime reader provided a very unique and intriguing premise for a story. Woman reports husband dead. Woman convicted of his murder. Fourteen years later husband turns up dead. Again. Who was the original dead man? Brilliant. As Ward takes us on a darkly disturbing journey between the two timelines of the story, some nasty secrets centring on a string of local sex attacks come to light, flicking on the reader’s empathy switch, and completely immersing us on the dark history that comes to be revealed. Ward’s control of pace and reveal is perfectly realised throughout. With the branching out of other stories focussing on the particular personal relationships of her cast of protagonists, and a frighteningly familiar tale of police incompetence and the lack of sympathy to female victims of crime, this book adroitly raises these serious issues throughout, but never to the detriment of this being a tautly played out thriller.

Once again, this is an extremely character driven book, and I liked the reprise of the police characters from the first book- DCI Francis Sadler, DS Damien Palmer and the wonderfully feisty DC Connie Childs- and the professional and personal interactions between them. Sadler is still firmly and solidly at the helm, and I liked the way that both Palmer and Childs sometimes resemble recalcitrant teenagers as their personal relationship takes a different turn in this book, and they continue to vie for the professional affection of their boss. There is also a strong cast around them from their under pressure senior commanding officer, Superintendent Dai Llewellyn, gruff pathologist Bill Shields and his assistant Scott, which really shores up the forensic and procedural accuracy of the book as past mistakes rear their ugly head. Equally, Ward carefully explores the sibling relationship between Lena and Kat Gray, and the tensions that arise from the aura of suspected guilt within their family dynamic, and the dangerous ramifications this holds for them both. Ward again sensitively depicts the fear and emotional vulnerability of Lena as a person in the light of her traumatic experience, balancing this with the turbulent effect that her actions have caused in her sister’s life too, which is a real lynchpin in our engagement as a reader with them.

Great plotting, superb characterisation, the exploration of important issues, and perfectly placed moments of snappy humour make this book a perfect pick up and read. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Nigel.
848 reviews98 followers
November 6, 2022
In brief - I thought the basic outline of this story was very good indeed and I see others have loved the book. For me the characters in the main never really came alive or had much depth.

In full
This is the second book in the author's D C Childs series of police stories. I'd not read the first however I didn't find that a handicap. I really did like the start of this book a lot. The basic story is that a woman (Lena) is accused of murdering her husband in bed one night. She serves her sentence. Twelve years later a body is found in a long abandoned morgue building and it turns out to be the freshly murdered body of her husband. This then is a tale of a murder investigation coloured by the fact that the police obviously blundered in their original investigation.

There are a few key characters in this. The immediate boss is Inspector Francis Sadler however he doesn't play a large role in this. Connie is a DC under Sadler and she and DS Palmer are a major part of the police presence in this book. I did find Connie a decent enough character I guess however Palmer was for me fairly colourless. Much of the "investigation" is actually done by Kat, who is Lena's sister, and a friend of hers. The two sisters were better characters than most of the others to me however there were hardly flawless and never really gripped me.

The overall story line in this book really appealed to me before I started reading it and it still does now. In general the development of that story line in the book worked well for me too. The pace is good however I simply never really became fully engaged in the story. While some of the characters were not bad some were really two dimensional at best. Equally I found that the story lacked any real tension which I felt should be in this sort of book. It didn't stop me reading it however I doubt this book will stay with me for very long. I also feel peeved in a way because I do think it could have been a better book. That said I'm sure many others will like this book.

Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
September 16, 2016
Those pesky little secrets! People keep hiding them and keep paying the price. Some people never learn that those darn little things will always come back to bite you. Lena Grey, one of the main characters in A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward, is one of those people.

In 2004 Lena Grey was found guilty and served fourteen years for murdering her husband, Andrew. The puzzle? After her release, and decades later, her husband, Andrew’s body is found, freshly murdered. So the question is: Who did Lena kill in 2004 and why did she confess to murdering Andrew? Detective Inspector Francis Sadler, Detective Constable Childs and Detective Constable Palmer are called to investigate. Immediately thereafter, Lena Grey goes missing. Her sister, Kat Grey, works with the detectives and also investigates on her own to try and figure out what happened all those years ago, as those little secrets came back to haunt her sister and are putting Kat’s life in danger too.

The secrets that are kept in this delightful mystery are in fact deadly ones, and the author Sarah Ward does a good job of keeping the readers guessing as to what the mystery is, and once it unravels, keeping the readers guessing as to why everything occurred.

The author’s strong suit is character development. DC Connie Childs, is deeply flawed, hardworking, passionate and extremely likeable. Her flaws and her bold tenacity kept me hooked. Kat Grey is a lonely, vulnerable and wounded woman, who desperately needs help. Lena Grey, the woman with all of the secrets, will do whatever it takes to protect the people she cares about, even when doing so puts her at risk. All of the other supporting characters add to the richness and suspense of this novel.

A Deadly Thaw is fast-paced, easy read that holds your interest throughout. DC Childs, I hope we meet again!

Thank you to NetGalley, Minotaur Books and Sarah Ward for an ARC of this suspenseful mystery in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 9/16/16.

**Will be published on Amazon on 9/27/16.
Profile Image for Craig Sisterson.
Author 3 books84 followers
August 30, 2016
Lena Grey is found guilty of murdering her husband, who was smothered in their bed. She offers no defense, and serves fourteen long years in prison. But within months of her release, his body is found in a disused morgue. Who was the man she killed before, and why did she lie about his identity?

'The difficult second novel', the 'sophomore slump' - as tough as it can be to break through in publishing (or screenwriting, acting, the sports world, etc), turning a promising start into sustained success can be even more difficult. Derbyshire writer Sarah Ward deftly avoids such concerns in A DEADLY THAW, which continues the high standards of her impressive 2015 debut IN BITTER CHILL.

One of the things I most enjoy about Ward's writing is the way she weaves history and present together, threading in some important social issues (particularly issues facing women), without it being jarring. She has a subtlety and elegance to her storytelling which in a way almost obscures the thematic layers going on beneath the main crime plotline, so they cleverly sneak up on you rather than being shouted from a bully pulpit. Ward blends traditional British mystery writing with Nordic sensibilities, creating something that feels both fresh and timeless.

The early hook in A DEADLY THAW is a good one: a local woman, Lena Fisher, confessed to murdering her husband in their bed, served a long prison sentence, has been released, but now Lena's husband turns up recently murdered. Ward immediately has the reader's mind stirring...

Read full review on Crime Watch here: http://kiwicrime.blogspot.co.uk/2016/...
Profile Image for Thebooktrail.
1,634 reviews295 followers
July 15, 2016
Not out until September but I am just too excited to wait until then as I just loved A Bitter Chill. There's something about an author who writes about where she lives, not just the landscape but the nuances of the place and the feel of the open moors and such crimes happening where people spend time walking and wandering in the British Countryside.

A cracking follow up to her first book and I think Sarah is one to watch - there's more Bampton on the way so that makes me more than happy.

Booktrail - link: Sarah Ward takes you to Bampton in Derbyshire
Profile Image for Laura.
357 reviews102 followers
July 19, 2016
Finished this last night! Was a VERY good book and illustrates why Sarah is one to watch. It was gripping, edgy, tense and compelling. I couldn't put it down and read it in about three hours! Definitely worth reading. It is classed as a sequel to In Bitter Chill but it would be perfectly fine to read as a standalone...it wasn't until after I'd finished it that I realised it wasn't a standalone!
Profile Image for Edel Henry.
141 reviews
October 19, 2016
A promising start but descended into utter mess. Whole strands that made no sense and writing that wouldn't have been out of place in an episode of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Expected better, quite disappointed
Profile Image for Crime by the Book.
192 reviews1,651 followers
September 14, 2016
Atmospheric, immersive, slow-burning mystery with a deep nod to Nordic Noir & classic detective fiction. Full review to come on CBTB!
Profile Image for Cleopatra  Pullen.
1,364 reviews296 followers
October 9, 2016
The second in the Francis Sadler series set in the fictional town of Bampton in Derbyshire is written in Sarah Ward’s trademark style of an easy read in a book full of complexities.

After being released from prison Lena Fisher moved back into the family home with her younger sister Kat. The two girls had been close up until the close of their teenage years in the 1980s when Lena withdrew and pulled away from her sister but following her release from prison the two live in the large house bequeathed to them both following the death of their professional parents. Despite Kat’s ambivalence towards the house, because Lena feels a connection, the prospect of it being sold is slim and Kat’s job as a counsellor simply can’t fund the repairs desperately needed to stop the house crumbling further.

Once again the novel has its roots in the past with the convicted murderer, Lena Fisher, committing her crime in 2004. Lena murdered her husband by suffocating him in their marital bed and served twelve years in prison for her crime. The problem is that a man found in a disused World War One mortuary, fabulously named Hale’s End, appears to be the very same Andrew Fisher – now that’s a mystery as one man simply cannot die twice!

But before the body is formally identified Lena goes missing causing Kat to worry. Kat herself is sure she is being watched and maybe followed, and that feeling only intensifies when she is given strange gifts by a teenage boy. The first such gift is a gun dating back to the war. Meanwhile unsurprisingly the local police force are themselves being investigated into how a woman was convicted of killing the wrong man, so tensions are running high as DI Francis Sadler, DC Connie Childs and DS Damian Palmer find they need to delve back to the past in order to have any chance of working out what has happened in the present. As an aside, although DI Sadler gets to give his name to the series, in A Deadly Thaw the police’s actions are mostly seen through Connie’s eyes, herself a complex character and although there is rivalry between her and Damian Palmer the book doesn’t get bogged down in endless police politics, yet accurately reflects a close working relationship with all its pitfalls.

As I found in the Sarah Ward’s first book, In Bitter Chill, not only is the plot complex, the characters are a delight. Although I found Lena the most difficult to understand there is a wide range of people that walk and talk like real people do! The author takes real care to ensure that not one of the characters feels like they’ve been designed to move the plot along, these are people who matter in their own right and when we are not looking are moaning about the day they’ve had or that they forget their umbrella! As a reader we get the full picture through the eyes of Kat and the police. This author is determined to keep you hooked with the chapters often ending on a revelation which because the time period and often the point of view changes you have to hold that thought until you catch up with the thread a few chapters later. Sarah Ward owes me some sleep – I simply couldn’t put this book down.

Sarah Ward is most definitely in the bracket of female writers of crime fiction that use issues as a theme to underpin their storylines but manage to do it without reiterating every other page what that is. These are books that get under your skin as well as giving you a fantastic puzzle to solve. I’m really hoping we will be seeing more of Francis Sadler and his team before too long.
Profile Image for Kathy.
3,421 reviews190 followers
October 8, 2016
Found this at my library today. I do wish I had read it while at the library rather than carrying it 1.5 miles home and will now trek it right back. It made no sense to me on any level. If I had to take a stab at it, I might guess that it has a theme of ignorant young women getting raped and not knowing what to do who also happen to live somewhere the police don't know how to handle rapes, so the girls don't tell? But one is willing to murder one of the dudes and go to prison and pretend it was her husband she killed whereas it was just her husband's rape partner though he gets to move elsewhere all under the idea of protecting people from the truth? But then the real husband gets murdered all while the cops investigating the new murder of the husband go in for adultery amongst themselves? And psychiatric counselors date their patients? If Bampton is in any way like this, I would advise to steer clear. Funny or not funny- I accidentally typed Brampton in my browser and saw picture of man arrested yesterday for plying woman with vodka before sexual assault- so don't go there either!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,491 reviews2,718 followers
February 6, 2017
An intriguing premise and solid police-work keep this book balanced and generally on the side of plausibility. The internal politics of historical police responses to rape give it currency. Despite some attempts to give him some kind of personality, DI Sadler is little more than a name and position, and it's Connie, his DC, who's the real police centre of the story.

The behaviour of Lena proves opaque at times - but overall this is a solid and intelligent piece of crime fiction.

Thanks to Faber & Faber for an ARC via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Sherri Thacker.
1,304 reviews268 followers
October 24, 2016
This book started off great. Grabbed me right away, in the first few pages BUT then about midway, it lost me. It just dragged and dragged all the way to the end which is why I'm only giving it 3 stars. I really wanted to like it.
Profile Image for Linda Boa.
274 reviews22 followers
August 28, 2016
The full review will be on my blog tomorrow, and I'll post it on here too. Suffice to say it most DEFINITELY does not disappoint! Even better than A Bitter Chill.
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