Bitter Edge – Rachel Lynch

Rachel Lynch is justifiably attracting a following for strong Lake District series of murder investigations featuring DI Kelly Porter.

She’s not yet in the same league as the best-known detectives like DI Rebus, Tom Thorne or Roy Grace, but can hold her own with DI Banks.

Lynch’s police procedurals – this is the fourth – sit neatly alongside the likes of LJ Ross and Angela Marsons whose excellent novels have been selling massively well as e-books in recent years.

Like them, Lynch refers gritty contemporary plots rather than the cosy murder mysteries you might expect from the Cumbrian setting.

Porter works with an established team and has a tangled personal life that intervenes in her investigations, right from the start of this latest story.

Bitter Edge begins when a teenage girl deliberately runs off a cliff in the high fells leaving no clue as to why she would kill herself.

No need for further investigation, because the team has plenty of other cases to get on with – until it becomes apparent that a number of those cases involve the school the girl attended.

There are dark things going on amongst the teenage students, not least sex crimes, all and as the story gathers pace, depth and complexity it becomes ever more gripping.

There’s strong plot and characterisation in Bitter Edge, but what lifts it above many police procedurals is a strong sense of place: with its bleak beauty the Lake District is as much a character as Lynch and her fellow detectives.

David Knights