The Scorched Earth by Rachael Blok reviewed

The Scorched Earth Book Cover The Scorched Earth
Rachael Blok
Head of Zeus
November 14, 2019

Who really killed Leo Fenton?

Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping with his brother Leo. It was the last time they ever saw each other. By the end of that fateful trip, Leo had disappeared, and Ben had been arrested for his murder.

Ben's girlfriend Ana Seabrook has always protested his innocence. Now, on the hottest day of 2018's sweltering heat wave, she receives a phone call from the police. Leo's body has been found, in a freshly dug grave in her own local churchyard. How did it get there? Who really killed him?

St Albans police, led by DCI Jansen, are soon unpicking a web of lies that shimmers beneath the surface of Ana's well-kept village. But as tensions mount, and the tight-knit community begins to unravel, Ana realises that if she wants to absolve her husband, she must unearth the truth alone.

The Scorched Earth by Rachael Blok had an intriguing start. Two years ago brothers Ben and Leo went camping. In the morning there was no sign of Leo and Ben was covered in his brother’s blood. Now Ana, Ben’s girlfriend, hears that a freshly buried body has been found in her local graveyard – can there possibly be a connection? And did Ben really kill his brother – he is currently in prison for that offence.

The book explores this story in a “then and now” format looking at the time Ben went camping on the one hand and the things that are happening to Ana now. The local police led by DCI Jansen are investigating the case. There are twists and turns and maybe the odd red herring or two just to keep us guessing. The big question is, if Ben didn’t kill Leo, who did?

At times The Scorched Earth was atmospheric but it is not without flaws for me. The character of Ana comes over reasonably well. However a number of other characters lacked depth for me and in some cases were not that good. I found some of the writing rather over hyped at times in a way that felt engineered. For example I often found the last sentence in a chapter seemed overly planned.

On one level I enjoyed this story – the actual story kept me reading – other aspects of this left me tutting at times. Certainly one aspect of this I found quite literally incredible. I’m not a fan of spoilers so I’ll let others make up there own minds. In some senses this really isn’t a bad read but for me the story was good and the book could have been better.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review