That Summer he died, by Emlyn Rees
James Sawday is a journalist for a leading lads mag who happens to be writing about serial killers on what seems like a daily basis. Fresh back from LA where he was writing a commentary piece on Peter Headley, a renowned serial killer, he is given a new investigative piece to write on a crazed axe killer in Grancombe. Unbeknown to anyone else Grancombe is a town that invites terror into James’ life owing to a deeply dark summer he spent down there as a teenager with his Uncle Alan when trying to escape the immeasurable grief he was suffering at the time from losing both of his parents in his car crash. Flashbacks soon intersperse with the present day as James is now reporting on a body that was once his friend and a murderer he knows he knew.
James has to revisit a past he has tried to bury and contact people he has tried to forget. There are hints of what might have happened and what might turn out to be but as with any good crime novel it keeps you guessing until the end. However, there are juicy secrets that are dropped open throughout so you never have a chance to get bored by the build up. The story reads vividly due to the excellent characterisation, individual character voice identity and descriptive location setting. You never feel like you lose James as a character, which can sometimes happen to pieces set over different time periods as he has been developed so deeply. The secondary characters have been carefully picked by Emlyn to serve an actual purpose in the story and they all in turn play their part in the big reveal. The flashbacks scenes are well-executed and match the pace of present day well, however due to the nature of the story I did find myself more engrossed in the flashbacks. If you guess the entire ending before it is revealed I would be very surprised, it’s clever and not something I saw coming.