Bitter Edge by Rachel Lynch
About The Book
DI Kelly Porter is back, but so is an old foe and this time he won’t back down…
When a teenage girl flings herself off a cliff in pursuit of a gruesome death, DI Kelly Porter is left asking why. Ruled a suicide, there’s no official reason for Kelly to chase answers, but as several of her team’s cases converge on the girl’s school, a new, darker story emerges. One which will bring Kelly face-to-face with an old foe determined to take back what is rightfully his – no matter the cost.
Mired in her pursuit of justice for the growing list of victims, Kelly finds security in Johnny, her family and the father she has only just discovered. But just as she draws close to unearthing the dark truth at the heart of her investigation, a single moment on a cold winter’s night shatters the notion that anything in Kelly’s world can ever truly be safe.
What could have in common a teenage girl suicide and a missing girl?
Everyone thinks there’s nothing in common between them except DI Kelly Porter, she doesn’t like that two students at the same high school have drug problems… Could it be that someone is targeting students?
Let me say that in the beginning I was totally lost with all the characters involved in the case; every chapter was a different character with what it seemed nothing to connect each of them! Of course as we entered more to the story we could understand all the characters and their stories, but it was a little bit difficult to enter to the plot.
I really liked DI Kelly Porter, she is a brave and intelligent woman who is not scared to investigate when she can feel that something is not right.
In this case we can read some of the most common teenage problems; bullying, drug use, friendship problems and loneliness. It was not easy thinking that some teenager can manipulate or bully to have more power or be accepted within the class and friends, but I don’t know neither if the parents can prevent it, or simply being alert to search for the red alerts before it would be too late…
But let’s focus on the story, there’s a teenage missing after going out with some friends; they say she left alone but DI Kelly knows that they are hiding something, she just has to investigate a little more to discover what did really happened that night.
I liked how the author shares a little bit of Kelly’s life, not a lot, but some drops to allow the reader connect with her. I will make a little spoiler not about the case, but about Kelly’s story. Because I have to say I couldn’t read the last pages of the book, only the last 4, not because I didn’t like the book, but because they were too deep and hurting for me.
This is the fourth book of the DI Kelly Porter, but you can read it as standalone.
This had been a good read; interesting, realistic and full of different characters to make the story much more complete and compelling. Ready for the Bitter Edge?
Do you want to know more? Here is a little extract for you…
As they drove away from the small house in Pooley Bridge, snow began to fall, as predicted.
It was a week before Christmas, and it looked as though the fells would be covered for the festive season. It was a double-edged sword: while it made the peaks a picture of pure awe and wonder, it also filled the mountain rescue with dread because of the predictability of casualties, and the increased difficulty in finding them.
Johnny shivered dramatically. ‘I can’t believe I’m leaving the house on a night like this when I could be lying in front of the fire with you, drinking moderately expensive red wine.’
Kelly smiled at him. The holiday season had begun to work its magic, and there was the luxurious feeling of everything stopping, even if for only one day: no shopping, no work, no traffic; just being. It was like travelling back in time to a more peaceful era when families sat and played games, and cooking smells wafted on the air; relatives visited and Christmas carols told of peace on earth and all things virtuous. Of course, the reality was nothing like that. Christmas was in effect one long battle to buy food, booze and stocking fillers that lay discarded after the big day. It was like a hotly anticipated date with a hunk who’d wowed with his profile picture, only for it to turn out that he had bad breath and a small penis.
For Kelly, there was no holiday really; not if the past was anything to go by. Some drunk always ended up in A&E having been glassed, or worse, and figures were on the up.
By and large, the poor coppers unfortunate enough to be on duty over the break dealt with the pissheads admirably, but occasionally an incident went further and the detective on call would be hauled in. This year, it was Kelly’s turn. She didn’t much mind; after all, it was just another day.
‘How’s Nikki?’ Johnny broke into her reverie, and Kelly bristled, as she always did.
She also knew that the subject couldn’t be avoided.
‘You’d know more about that than me. Are you still helping her to get counselling?’
Nikki’s PTSD came and went. Kelly thought it more bipolar, but all the experts agreed that she’d had a tough time recovering from her abduction over eighteen months ago by one of the Lake District’s most famous residents: a serial killer nicknamed ‘the Teacher’.
Even Wordsworth had become insignificant during the search for the crazy fuck who left poetry on his poor victims. Nikki had had a lucky escape, but not so her mind.
‘I haven’t spoken to her in ages,’ Johnny said. ‘I put her in touch with a mate of mine who works for an army charity specialising in PTSD, but he said she went cold on him.’
‘I’m not surprised. She likes the attention initially, then gets bored. I’m sure she’s OK, or Mum would have said something.’ Kelly hadn’t spoken to her sister for some time either. Finding out that they were only half-sisters instead of full ones had removed some of the angst and guilt surrounding their tempestuous relationship. It seemed less important now; getting to know her real father was Kelly’s priority, and the last thing she needed was Nikki ruining it.
‘Nikki doesn’t know about your dad, does she?’ It was as though Johnny could read her mind. ‘Are you going to tell her?’
Kelly gripped the wheel. ‘I’m torn. Half of me wants to scream it out so she leaves me alone for good. The other half wants to keep it to myself because I know she’ll try to make life very difficult for Ted.’
‘Assumption is the mother—’
‘Oh, please! Don’t preach to me. She really doesn’t deserve to know. You keep seeing this chink of humanity in her that I don’t – that I’ve never seen. I let her in last year after her horrendous experience. But come on, she loves the attention! Did you know she said that you’re too hot for me?’
Johnny raised his eyebrows.
‘You have no idea how vicious she is when no one’s looking.’
‘What’s hot?’ he joked. It made Kelly laugh and defused the tension. He changed the subject.
‘Is your mum set for Christmas?’
‘Yes, she’s looking forward to coming.’
Josie was coming too. At fifteen, Johnny’s daughter was turning into a madam; an even bigger one than she already was. It was pretty much the only source of tension between Kelly and Johnny. There was nothing especially wrong with the girl, but it was the way she manipulated her father that bothered Kelly. She’d caught her several times grinning after she’d got her own way, as if to say to Kelly, ‘I have way more power than you do.’ Kelly supposed that like any doting father, all Johnny needed was a flicker of cow eyes to make him melt, and Josie knew it.
Christmas dinner had the potential to be fraught, but they all knew that Kelly might have to leave them to fend for themselves should she get a call on Christmas Day. She half suspected it might be a welcome diversion. Wendy had met Josie several times and had a knack of disarming her, which was partly why she’d been invited. Besides, last year, Wendy was at Nikki’s, so it was Kelly’s turn.
The subject of inviting Nikki and her family had been skirted round several times, with Kelly finding a way out each time. She swung wildly between caving in for the sake of her three nieces, and a stubborn refusal to entertain her sibling no matter how they struggled.
No one pushed the idea, not even Wendy. It had been a tough year for Nikki, of that there was no doubt, but Kelly wasn’t a charity, and even the blood they shared ran thin. Kelly believed that the olive branches she’d held out on many occasions had been too often thrust back into her face, causing long-lasting scars. Nikki still wasn’t back to her normal self, and she wasn’t good in groups. Even Johnny agreed that she wasn’t ready; she was unpredictable
and in the very early days of rehabilitation.
Kelly drove out of Pooley Bridge and up to the A66. The snow began to fall more heavily and she needed to use her wipers. She looked at her temperature gauge: minus two degrees. It would freeze tonight.
‘It’s so beautiful,’ she said. It was true: the snow blanketed anything ugly and discoloured and kissed the whole landscape with a clinical white blessing.
She took it slowly, but others whizzed past them.
‘Wankers,’ she said. She’d seen enough RTAs to know the importance of respecting the weather. Last year a woman had swerved on black ice at over sixty miles an hour on this very road and killed her three kids sitting in the back. That kind of thing slowed Kelly down.
Not like these idiots.
It wasn’t long before the lights of Keswick came into view ahead and the great silhouettes of Blencathra and Skiddaw towered over them on their right-hand side.
Parking was always a nightmare in Keswick, but Kelly found a space at the police station. She’d got to know many of the local coppers over the last few years, and she knew that Stan MacIntyre was on shift. From there it was a short walk into town. They fastened their thick walking coats and pulled on hats, and headed towards the fair.
They heard it before they saw it. Screams carried on the freezing air, and they heard the juddering of powerful machinery and the chugging of the lorries powering it. Petrol lay heavy in the air, as well as caramel and burger fat. It was the Christmas market that Kelly was interested in, but she also loved walking through the fair and watching. She linked Johnny’s arm and they spotted the first crowds.
‘Why am I doing this?’ Johnny asked.
‘Oh come on, you old fart! Where’s your sense of adventure?’
‘I get enough of that in my day job, and this weather isn’t going to help. I dread to think about the halfwits who’ll get stuck up there this year. Remember that guy who tried to ski down Helvellyn last year, pissed out of his brains?’
‘Christ, yes. He was shit-faced. He’s lucky to be alive,’ Kelly said. The snow always brought out way more walkers because it made the fells look so pretty. But the weather changed so quickly in winter and the days were brutally short, trapping even experienced walkers. Johnny wasn’t on call over Christmas, but knowing him, if they were particularly busy, he’d turn up anyway. One misjudged slip up on the higher peaks could be fatal.
Their pace slowed as they hit the bulk of the thrill-seekers. The attractions were overflowing, and people of all ages waited in long lines for their turn. It was still quite early, and so young children milled about with their parents, eating candyfloss and pointing to the bright lights. Older children showed off and paraded in front of the opposite sex. Kelly’s eyes were drawn to one group, and she stared at their attire. The girls all looked the same: skinny jeans, midriff tops, bulky biker-style coats, chunky sneakers and tons of dark make-up. She couldn’t tell if they were pretty or not, they were hidden behind so many layers of cosmetics.
Oh shut up, Kelly, she thought. It’s called youth.
She suffered an acute moment of melancholy as a vision of Jenna Fraser entered her mind. She tried to push it away. At the funeral, Jenna’s father had said she was finally at peace. It was as if her death had been inevitable, and she’d somehow been born with an innate sense of fatality.
‘Come on, I’ll win you a teddy,’ said Johnny.
‘Really? So you do like the fair! You tease!’
He smirked. He couldn’t walk past guns without having a pop. He paid the shifty-looking guy a crisp fiver and was handed a rifle. Kelly had never seen him cock a weapon; he looked like a pro.
‘Best shot in Basra,’ he boasted, and squinted through the sight. The pellet pinged and hit the first-prize target. The stallholder looked utterly pissed off and eyed Johnny suspiciously.
‘No, mountain rescue, mate.’
‘You need to do that three times.’
‘No problem.’ He cocked the weapon again and pinged another one off. The guy shook his head as Johnny hit the same target, and reluctantly set it up again. Johnny hit the mark for the third time and handed the rifle back.
‘Sight’s a bit off, mate,’ he said. They all did it, those stalls – put the sight off a touch so no one ever won – but Johnny knew how to spot it and make the necessary adjustments.
‘Beginner’s luck,’ he added.
‘You can choose anything from the top row,’ the guy told Kelly, knowing the gift was for her; what man won himself a teddy? Kelly chose a huge unicorn and Johnny rolled his eyes.
‘Will you carry it for me?’
‘Of course I will,’ he said.
They walked away, and the stallholder watched them until they disappeared round the corner. Kelly held on to Johnny’s arm, both of them on high alert. She had noticed this about him after only knowing him a short time: he never stopped searching out the enemy, even if it was only a bartender short-changing him. His eyes were never still.
‘I don’t trust any of these guys; they’re dodgy as hell,’ he said, glancing around. They all looked as though they only emerged from the underbelly of society at night. Some were old and some were young; all looked unclean and criminal.
‘I know. They give me the creeps. My sister used to go out with one of them; they’d meet every year and I’d lie to my parents. He stank,’ she added.
‘You lied to your parents?’
‘Believe me, Wendy had hawk eyes. If we wanted any fun, we had to cover for each other.’
‘And what about your dad?’
‘I mean John,’ he said.
‘Sorry, it was rhetorical. I was being petulant.’
‘He always favoured me. I guess he didn’t know I wasn’t his.’
‘Does he know?’ He meant Ted Wallis, the senior pathologist and Kelly’s biological father.
‘I don’t know.’
‘Will you tell him?’ he asked.
‘I really fancy some glühwein.’ She changed the subject.
‘Do you want me to drive?’ he asked.
‘If you don’t mind. This snow looks like it’s getting thicker. We shouldn’t stay out long anyway.’
They walked towards the stall and ordered a cup of the warm spicy red wine, and a coffee for Johnny. It was as if the fair was divided into two ghettos: the rides, and the stalls.
The former frequented by kids and predators, the latter by shoppers and lovers.
There was no room to sit, and so they took their cups and wandered through the little wooden stalls that popped up every year selling trinkets, woollen goods, food and drink. They chose some local artisan cheese, some Cartmel sticky pudding, and a couple of bottles of red wine, as well as a hand-carved wooden trinket box for Josie, then made their way back to the car.
Kelly’s cheeks were flushed from the alcohol, and she felt warm. She held onto Johnny’s arm as they navigated around clumps of people. The demographic of the multitude had changed somewhat, the younger children and their parents conspicuously absent. The atmosphere was different too. Now huddles of girls followed gangs of lads swaggering and
smoking. Kelly shivered. It was time to go.
About The Author
Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her.
London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.