Hush Hush is the first in a brand new detective series featuring DS Grace Allendale by veteran crime writer Mel Sherratt. Hush Hush was my first venture into Sherratt’s work, but it’s not my first time at the crime fiction rodeo.
Whilst it’s true that crime fiction isn’t exactly my ‘go-to’ genre, I’ve read a fair few crime fiction novels now and whilst Hush Hush is good, I’ve seen it being described as “the most gripping crime thriller of 2018” – which I personally don’t feel is true. Here’s why.
The plot is about DS Grace Allendale who returns to her hometown to find a string of gruesome murders occurring to people in places they feel comfortable (such as the gym, their homes and their workplaces) and often in broad daylight. All clues, and suspicions, lead to the Steeles – the local crime family. The only hitch is that the Steele’s aren’t just a crime family, they are Grace’s family too. The only trouble is, Grace is experiencing animosity from both her estranged family and her own detective team. So – when both sides are out to get you, will blood be thicker than water?
Now, let’s start off with one of my most anticipated aspects when I read a book like this: the gore. We are promised gruesome murders, and whilst we do get them, they’re definitely on the tame side of gruesome. I found myself wanting more, a lot more from the descriptions. But perhaps that’s just me and what is tame to my sick tastes in gruesome for others. All I know is that I was left wanting more.
“He could hear nothing but his own screams as his skin fell from the backs of his hands.”
As this is our first introduction to Grace Allendale, and we have the added bonus of family history being a major part of the plot, there needed to be quite a bit of a deep-dive into who Grace is as a character so that we as readers can decide where our empathy lies. One of the key ways we get this information throughout Hush Hush is via flashbacks.
I’m usually not a fan of flashbacks in books, however I didn’t mind it so much in this book because we literally knew nothing about any of the characters, and we really needed to know their back stories to get the most out of the plot. Hopefully flashbacks won’t be a major theme in future books of this series.
“Even in her line of work, it never failed to amaze her what one human being was capable of doing to another.”
The main problem I had with Hush Hush as a detective crime novel is that there was very little actual detective work going on. Grace worked on a lot of hunches. She also relied on knowing the suspects a lot – despite them being estranged and her not really knowing them at all. I’m curious to know how Grace will solve future cases given that this one was very ‘Deus Ex Machina’ and very plot convenient.
I also felt that the characters are really underdeveloped – especially the police officers that work with Grace. I genuinely don’t remember any of their names or anything about them. This is mostly due to the fact that they weren’t so much characters as they were ‘furniture’ – they were just…there. They had no personality of defining traits that I could see.
“Tucked away her emotions, hid her pain. The British way of dealing with things.”
However there are a lot of the twists and turns that were promised. The plot does try to throw the reader several times and just because I figured out who the killer was at the halfway point doesn’t mean that everyone will, and I’m sure many people will be surprised.
Overall, Hush Hush didn’t have too much substance to offer, even at 400 pages, but it’s the first in a new series and I have high hopes for the rest of the novels to come. I would absolutely continue the series to give the characters a chance and to see how Grace solves another crime and to, hopefully, learn more about her team.
All in all Hush Hush is an enjoyable crime novel that might be disturbing to some, gruesome to others and an average walk in the park to a handful, but it was a fun, speedy novel with twists and turns and was well written.
” ‘Hush, hush,’ he whispered, putting a finger to her lips before parting them.”
Thanks to Avon for partnering with me and for providing and advanced copy for review.
A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.
All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.
To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?
She lives in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and terrier, Dexter.
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