independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

a gripping yarn in a devon barn works a charm

London-born freelance journalist Erin Kelly (pictured right) scored a bullseye with her first novel, a taut psychological thriller called The Poison Tree.

A solid bestseller, it was turned into a two-part prime-time drama series by ITV.

The Burning Air is her equally gripping third novel, a book that reaffirms her skill at laying bare the bones of a dysfunctional family and exposing its dark secrets with great effect.

The MacBrides have always gone to Far Barn, their dilapidated country cottage in Devon, for bonfire night, but this year everything is different.

Lydia, the matriarch, recently dead from cancer, has, unknown to her children, taken to her grave a secret that will have a dreadful impact on her family.

Her husband Rowan is crippled by grief and loss; Sophie, the eldest daughter, is desperately trying to repair a crumbling marriage; and Felix, the youngest of the family, has brought a girlfriend with him for the first time.

The girl, Kerry, seems odd in a way nobody can quite put their finger on – but when they leave her looking after Sophie's baby daughter, and return to find both Kerry and the baby gone, they are forced to ask themselves if they have allowed a cuckoo into their nest.

To reveal more would spoil a masterfully plotted dark tale of how a small injustice can have devastating consequences. I devoured it in one sitting.

Myles McWeeney

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