Pulpit Rock by Kate Rhodes

Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on Pulpit Rock, book four in the Ben Kitto series by Kate Rhodes. I must admit I’ve been very remiss in keeping up with this series, something I intend to fully remedy, but I really do like Ben as a character so seeing there was a new book out, reading it really was a no brainer for me. Here’s what it’s about:

Source: Netgalley

About the Book

As the scorching summer sun beats down on St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly, DI Ben Kitto and his team are training for the annual Swimathon, until they discover a body hanging from Pulpit Rock, dressed in a bridal gown.

An obsessive killer is hunting for female victims. Kitto has no choice but to stop anyone leaving St Mary’s, but soon another woman is attacked.

The killer must be a trusted member of the community. Kitto’s investigation is being watched closely, the killer always one step ahead, as the next victim is chosen . . .


My Thoughts

So this may be book four in the series, but it’s only the second one I’ve read. I know, I know. Don’t judge me! I’m slowly making up for lost time. But what a case to drop back in on Ben for though and, given who pops back up in his life, what a perfect time to drop in too.

This story is atmospheric, creepy and full of mystery and tension from start to finish. Once again Ben finds himself in the middle of murder investigation although with his boss away on leave, the focus is entirely on him to bring a killer to justice. And what an M.O. this killer has. Murdering a young woman and leaving her hanging at Pulpit Rock, dressed in a bridal gown and veil … That in itself sends the chills right through you, but knowing that the killer must be somewhere on the island still, and that they are all stranded, not knowing if, or when, they will strike again, just adds that ultimate layer of tension. It’s like a locked room mystery but outdoors, the walls being the coast line and the wild seas taht separate the inhabitants from the mainland and potential safety.

I really do love the way in which Kate Rhodes takes Scilly and winds it into the stories she creates. Yes, some of the scenery and the representation of island, and police, life may be subject to artistic licence, that’s almost inevitable in fiction, but she creates a scene that is so full of mystery that I find myself both drawn to and almost a little bit in awe of. Once again that kind of small town vibe infuses the story, that sense of everyone knowing each other and yet knowing that every closed door hiding secrets that are bound to be uncovered during the investigation, just enriches the experience of reading for me.

Character wise the author has introduced a myriad of authentic voices, people who are new to use but also strangely familiar. They could be literally anyone you know. So many of them appeared so concerned so determined to help find who could possibly commit such a heinous crime, and yet I found myself doubting each of them in turn. Kate Rhodes really has done a bang up job of hiding the killer in plain sight and whilst the eventual reveal was one of my (very long) list of suspects are some turn or other, I had included and then discounted them so often, even I wasn’t sure the right person has been caught. The tension really does build in this story, as surely as the mists against the coastline, and it is leading us to a rather dramatic and action filled conclusion.

I really do enjoy being back in the company of Ben Kitto and Shadow. The story being told in first person narrative, largely from Ben’s point of view, drew me further into the case, and it helps that Ben is a great character to spend time with. It’s clear that he has changed somewhat in the past few books but the born Detective is still there, that overwhelming sense of failing those who he cannot save, and his determination to see justice done is truly endearing. Seeing him confronted by his not too distant past, seeing the conflict that causes, just makes me like him even more and I’m intrigued to see how, or if, this changes him in future books.

Another atmospheric mystery that I highly recommend. Going to go and play catch up on books two and three now as book five is just around that corner.

About the Author

Kate Rhodes is a crime novelist and award winning poet. Kate was born in south London, but now lives in Cambridge with her family. She studied English at university, and did a wide range of jobs including working in bars, being a theatre usherette, and teaching at a liberal arts college in Florida, before focusing on her writing.

Her latest crime novels are the acclaimed HELL BAY series set in the Isles of Scilly. Kate has been passionate about the islands since holidaying there as a child, and still returns for regular visits. Books in the series include HELL BAY, RUIN BEACH, and BURNT ISLAND.


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