The Village by Caroline Mitchell

Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on The Village, the latest. thriller from Caroline Mitchell. My thanks to Rhiannon Morris at FMcM Associates for the tour invite and to publisher Thomas & Mercer for the advance copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 18 January 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

About the Book

From the bestselling author of the DI Amy Winter series comes a thriller about a shocking disappearance—and the village that has conspired to keep the truth buried.

Ten years ago, the Harper family disappeared. Their deserted cottage was left with the water running, the television playing cartoons, the oven ready for baking. The doors were locked from the inside.

Overnight, the sleepy village of Nighbrook became notorious as the scene of the unsolved mystery of the decade, an epicentre for ghoulish media speculation.

For crime journalist Naomi, solving the case has turned into an obsession. So now, with Ivy Cottage finally listed for sale, it’s her chance to mount an investigation like no other. And her husband and stepdaughter don’t really need to know what happened in their new home… do they?

But Nighbrook isn’t quite the village she expected. No one wants to talk to her. No one will answer her questions. And as she becomes increasingly uneasy, it’s clear that the villagers are hiding something—that there is something very dark at the heart of this rural idyll. And the deeper she digs, the more it seems her investigation could be more dangerous than she ever imagined… In raking up the secrets of the past, has she made her own family the next target?

My Thoughts

The Village is a chilling, atmospheric mystery, that combines great characters and suspense with a setting that is both isolated and claustrophobic all at once. From the very beginning of the book I was hooked, invested in the story and the mystery of the Harper family, who disappeared in suspicious circumstances a decade earlier. It is a story that involves us, as readers, in a kind of subterfuge, and yet resolutely holds its secrets from our curious and prying eyes. I, much like Naomi, became quickly intrigued by the mystery, but unlike the books protagonist, I was armed with far more clarity on just what the eponymous village was concealing. Not everything, not by a long chalk, but more than enough to get the hackles up and view everyone and everything with suspicion.

The story follows Naomi and her family as they move to a new home in the village of Nighbrook, the very cottage from which the Harpers disappeared in fact. Far from the idyll they may have hoped for, the house is in need to some major repairs and the location far more isolated than even Naomi feels comfortable with. This adds a kind of conflict and tension to the story, the isolation creating a sense of threat that only grows as the story progresses. And Nighbrook is a very dark kind of village. Everyone knows everyone, and they are in no way welcoming of strangers. And there is nothing delightful about Nighbrook at all. Only a kind of shadow that rests beneath the facade of the picturesque village setting,

But it is not just the villagers making Naomi’s life difficult, and the animosity coming in waves off her step-daughter, Morgan, who resentment of Naomi seemingly knows no bounds. There is a real authenticity to this relationship, that idea of the child who doesn’t want a new mother, doesn’t welcome the intrusion in her family, and who still believes that her parents can and should be together. It is acutely observed by the author and adds to the already high tension of the story. I felt a touch sorry for Naomi, although also frustrated as her position could have been improved tenfold if she had simply been more honest with her family.

This is very much a story of deception, a twisted subterfuge in which people are willing to kill in order to maintain order and keep their long buried secrets. We are privy to some of the past through the memories of those who lived through the disappearance, although whether we can fully trust their perspective is open to question. There are so many lies, and so few people that felt trustworthy, that even when I was shown the apparent truth, I’m not sure I believed it. Caroline Mitchell had me guessing and second guessing myself, sure I knew exactly what was happening, but still shocked by the full extent of the truth. And even then, when it seemed everything was finally out in the open, a final jaw dropping revelation is made that had me nodding in appreciation.

Perhaps there’s something to be said about living in a large, anonymous town or city after all.

A dark, twisted tale full of misdirection, secrecy and suspense. Fans of the author will absolutely love it. I think it’s one of my favourite books by Caroline Mitchell to date.

About the Author

A former police detective, Caroline Mitchell now writes full-time.

She has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims—high-risk victims of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. The mental strength shown by the victims of these crimes is a constant source of inspiration to her, and Mitchell combines their tenacity with her knowledge of police procedure to create tense psychological thrillers.

Originally from Ireland, she now lives in a pretty village on the coast of Essex with her husband and three children.

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