Fresh Meat: Broadchurch by Erin Kelly

Broadchurch by Erin Kelly is a small town murder mystery based on the television series from Chris Chibnall (available September 16, 2014).

At its core, this is a police procedural. A dead body has been found, obviously murdered. Detectives need to figure out who did it and why. Once they do, if they do, apprehend the culprit. But there is so much more than that going on.

All of the action takes place in a small town. The good thing about small towns is that everybody knows everybody else. It’s also the bad thing about small towns. At first no one can believe someone they know could have done this. It must be an outsider.  But as the investigation drags on, they start looking at each other differently. Every action and word becomes suspect, sinister.

A big city Detective Inspector is leading the investigation. Alec Hardy’s got the experience, the know-how. What he doesn’t know is how to navigate this small town. He’s brusque, rude even. No one on the team likes his style. Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, as his reluctant second in command, gets the brunt of it.

She’s barely holding it together. Danny was her son’s best friend and her best friend’s son. As a detective she knows what questions she needs to ask and just who should be questioned, whether she likes it or not. And Miller does manage to keep up with Hardy. Not only keep up with but stand up to when necessary. Ellie’s a mum. And that doesn’t just mean the soft, nurturing part. She has the grit and stamina to keep going, protect herself and those close to her while ferreting out the truth.

Kelly uses multiple points of view to tell the story. Since Hardy and Miller have such different personalities and styles, it made sense that the author would choose to let the reader into their heads. Hardy is carrying a lot of secrets and emotions around. What kept me from thinking he was nothing but a jerk was learning what was inside the policeman:

To one side of the door frame Danny’s height has been recorded through the years, inked on the wall from his fourth birthday to a couple of months ago. The first few dates and measurements are in adult handwriting but most are in Danny’s own, a round childish scrawl slowly evolving into a distinct hand. The lines come to an abrupt halt somewhere near Hardy’s elbow. Heavy sadness pierces his professional armour and he sinks on to the bed and lets his head drop into his hands. For some people tears dam behind the eyeballs but when Hardy wants to cry he has to hold them in using the back of his throat. He sometimes feels it’s the only strong muscle in his body.

When he looks up again, Beth is on the landing, staring right at him. He’s seen that expression before, on another mother, and he has to turn his face away. It’s not the grief he can’t handle. It’s the trust, the unquestioning trust she has already put in him.

Miller has the inside track with the people of the town and the victim’s family. I was glad to get the first-hand information watching Ellie question people rather than have to “listen” to her tell Hardy what she’s been doing.

But the author goes way beyond these two. She spends a lot of time with Danny’s parents, Beth and Mark. Early on, Beth’s reaction to finding out her son isn’t where he’s supposed to be is spot on.

Her pulse doubles its pace as the first cold trickle of panic begins. She tells herself to stay calm, that it’s probably nothing, but her fingers slip on the keypad when she pulls up Danny’s number on her phone. Even as it goes straight to voicemail she resolves to keep it breezy because she doesn’t want him to think he’s in trouble, although if she finds out he’s bunking off, God help her, she’ll – ‘Danny, it’s Mum,’ she says after the beep. ‘So you’re not at school, can you give me a call straight away, sweetheart, just want to know where you are.’

But even while she’s talking her mind is running ahead of her and her next call, one second after ringing off, is to Jack Marshall at the paper shop to check that Danny did his round earlier in the morning. Jack tells her that Danny didn’t turn up. He didn’t call. This has never happened before. Beth cannot conceive a situation that would make Danny miss his paper round.

She keeps the next call short to free up the line for Danny. ‘Mark, it’s me, ring me now.’

A reporter from London who latches onto the story is a big point of view character. Other locals whose point of view we get are Danny’s sister, the newsagent, the local newspaper staff, Tom—Ellie’s son and Danny’s friend, a coworker of Danny’s father, a strange woman who lives in a caravan. There may be a few more. Some of them worked for me, others seemed like overkill.

I was kept guessing right up to the end—and I saw the television show. My excuse is that occasionally a decision is made to change the end of a story when it changes media (I’m not saying if that was done here or not.). The shifts in point of view added to the misdirection. You see, even the nicest person keeps certain facts about themselves hidden. Some of these secrets are worse than others, but keeping any secrets when an eleven-year-old boy has been murdered becomes suspicious.

What worked the best for me was the relationship between Hardy and Miller. Making opposites work together isn’t a new idea. Books, movies and television are full of these partnerships—some better than others. Done well it’s a great way to show more than one side of the story. Here it is done well. I also appreciated that there was not even a hint of potential romantic involvement. It’s just too easy a trap to fall into, and the writer(s) didn’t take the bait.

The television show has been renewed. I hope that means we’ll get another Broadchurch book as well.

See more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.

Enjoy our exclusive audio excerpt of Erin Kelly's Broadchurch!

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Broadchurch Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2014/08/fresh-meat-broadchurch-by-erin-kelly-tv-series-chris-chibnall-police-debbie-meldrum beginning at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) September 11, 2014. Sweepstakes ends 10:29 a.m. ET September 18, 2014. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Debbie Meldrum reads just about everything she can get her hands on. She was the short fiction editor for Apollo's Lyre and the Editor in Chief of the Pikes Peak Writers NewsMag. She's currently putting the finishing touches on her first novel.

Read all of Debbie Meldrum's posts for Criminal Element.

Comments

  1. Lisa Weihl

    Love a good mystery and being from a small town I am very intrigued at the premise of this book.

  2. Sheila Korman

    I would love to read this book—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

  3. Gordon Bingham

    Really enjoyed the origial teleplay. Looking forward to this one!

  4. Jody Darden

    I enjoy this type of small town intrigue!

  5. Lisa Neuman

    If its half as good as the TV series, it’ll be excellent.

  6. Jeanette Barney

    I would love to read this book. It would be a great win.

  7. Luther Reeger

    this sounds like a good book

  8. Karen Barnett

    Book sounds terrific. Just discovered that I have this channel so I get to watch!

  9. yiayia79

    Sounds like a good read

  10. Linda Knowles

    I love a good murder mystery

  11. angela smith

    the book sounds good.thans for the chance

  12. Janice Santillo

    Sounds like an interesting read. Hope I win.

  13. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  14. Jeffrey Malis

    Looking forward to reading this companion material… Thanks for the chance!

  15. Theresa Dell

    Loved the TV show and would really love to read the book

  16. Denise Sachs

    I’d love to read this.

  17. Kermit Crissey

    I need a good book to read and this sounds like a good one!!

  18. Dara Nix

    I’ve never seen the television show … but I would LOVE to read this! Thanks for the opportunity!

  19. Darlene Wright

    This looks good, would like to read it! Thanks

  20. Vicky Boackle

    sounds interesting.

  21. jennifer sullivan

    would love this

  22. Tari Lawson

    I tried the link to “post a comment” and it is invalid :(.

  23. Barbara Lima

    I want it!

  24. cheryl wong

    thanks for the chance

  25. carol bondell

    love mysteries and would love to win this book

  26. Julie Nelson

    I feel lucky

  27. runner

    Groovy Fresh Meat: Broadchurch!

  28. Roberta123

    I’d like to read & review this book. Sounds like a winner.

  29. Roberta Temby

    I’d like to read & review this book.

  30. lasvegasnv

    Sounds mysterious

  31. Mihaela Day

    I would love to read this book

  32. Richard Brandt

    I like to read my TV!

  33. JAMES LYNAM

    Great series, now I want to read the book.

  34. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    Murder in a small town and good cop-bad cop! Yes!

  35. Heather Giovannitti

    I heard this was a great series. I would love to read the book!

  36. Mike Rogers

    Looks great!

  37. Jeffrey Tretin

    Loved the series on BBC America. Would love to read the book.

  38. bigsandwich6

    Sounds cool.

  39. Scott Knight

    Sounds cool.

  40. MaryC

    Enjoyed the series – book sounds great.

  41. Marjorie Tucker

    I’d love to win a copy of Broadchurch.

  42. Megan Marie

    I love the television series and am very interested to read the book!

  43. Andrew Kuligowski

    I confess – I’m not familiar with the television series. However, it sounds like my type of reading.

  44. Julie Earhart Cracchiolo

    mememememememememememe! Please pick me!

  45. Julie Earhart

    mememememememememememememe!

    Please pick ME!

  46. Joanie Hinton

    Sounds like a book I would love to read

  47. Rosemary

    I loved the series…hope the US remake is just as good – and look forward to another book!

  48. Patrick Murphy

    I loved the TV series and I am a big fan of David Tennant so this was something I had to see

  49. Diane Walli

    Happy to see the continuation of Broadchurch stories. Thanks for the chance to win.

  50. Deborah Dumm

    Sounds like a real good book. Never saw the TV show.

  51. Nicole Bryngelson

    Thanks for the oppurtunity! 🙂

  52. Lori Rutherford

    This book sounds like an all-nighter!Can’t wait to read it

  53. Deanna Stillings

    This sounds great. We don’t get to see the TV program.

  54. betsy shipley

    Loved! the first season of the BBC Broadchurch and looking forward to the second season. I now understand that the Fox station will be showing a us version of Broadchurch with David Tennant coming this fall.
    Hm……. Since I enjoy everything British, Danish, etc. I wonder if the us version will have too much glitz like so many other shows have.
    betsy shipley

  55. susan beamon

    I did manage to see one episode of the show. Then someone at the station showing it moved things around without telling the tv guide people and I missed the rest of the show. The episode I saw was interesting, if slow. Books don’t need to match the pace of a television program, which is one of the reasons I like books better. I can skim the draggy parts if I want to. Looking forward to eventually reading this book.

  56. Crystal Blackburn

    I loved the tv series. Now I’m dying to read the book.

  57. njgrl

    Sounds like my type of book, count me in.

  58. Lisa Richardson

    I grew up in a small town AND I worked for the newspaper there, so this story sounds doubly interesting to me! Someone above mentioned there is a tv series, which I’ve never heard of, so I will have to search that out.

  59. TAMMY CUEVAS

    Being from a small town, this sounds like something I would enjoy. I have always said that you can’t do anything in my hometown without everyone knowing it, so I can’t imagine how anyone could commit murder and get away with it.

  60. Joanne Mielczarski

    Loved the BBC show, would love to read the book.

  61. Lisa Garrett

    I am from a small town and would love to read this.

  62. Katharine Kan

    The BBC series was must-see TV in our household. I would love to read the novel! I’m hoping for more backstory about the characters.

  63. L Peters

    I’ve heard this is such a great book. So I’m hoping to win. Thanks.

  64. Susan Stokes

    Was Sad to See Broadchurch Leave us… To Read The Book Will be A Joy!!! Fox “Gracepoint” (Broadchurch) must Stay and not Stray from the Original BC we will be Watching…

  65. Daniel Morrell

    always like mysteries

  66. Linda Kish

    I would love to read this book. It sounds terrific.

  67. Richard Brandt

    Yes, please.

  68. Randy Franco

    Loved the show. Looking forward to the remake as well.

  69. Dorothy Hayes

    I’d love a copy of this one! Sounds great.

  70. lynette thompson

    This looks like a great book.

    Thank you

  71. patricia gibby

    Never have seen the show, but would like to read the book

  72. vicki wurgler

    love to read this book-thanks

  73. Kathleen Tyree

    LOVED the show, intrigued by the book?

  74. Joyce Mitchell

    Thanks for the chance to win.

  75. Janice Santillo

    sounds really good. would love to win.

  76. Sally Winkleblech

    I think this is a book I would really enjoy.

  77. keith james

    Thanks for the chance.

  78. Diane Furst

    Have not seen the show, but this sounds like a great book. If I don’t win, I’ll just check it out on my own.

  79. Kris Kaminski

    Saw the show, want to read the Book!

  80. Colleen Votour

    I would love to get a copy of this ARC. so glad the show was renewed.

  81. Bobbi Dannenfeldt

    I love the show and can’t wait to read the book!

  82. Suzanne Rorhus

    Intriguing!

  83. Darlene Slocum

    I like small town mysteries. Local law enforcement varies from town to town and I find that interesting and sometimes amusing.

  84. Marjorie Manharth

    Sounds like everything I like in a book – would love to read it.

  85. Betsy Whitmarsh

    Terrific series!

  86. Danielle Hall

    thanks a lot for this giveaway

  87. John Monahan

    I really enjoyed the show and am wondering how the book compares.

  88. M Thompson

    We missed part of the tv series so would love to read the book!

  89. Susan Smoaks

    awesome, i can’t wait to read this

  90. Joan OToole

    I liked the TV show and would like to read the book. Thanks for a great giveaway.

  91. Joe Hauser

    Amazing how many people can’t read this:

    “TIP: Since only comments from [b]registered users[/b] will be tabulated, if your [b]user name[/b] [b]appears in red[/b] above your comment—[b]STOP[/b]—go log in, then try commenting again. If your [b]user name appears in black[/b] above your comment, [b]You’re In[/b]!

  92. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  93. Norm Brontman

    Original show was dark but really good

  94. Edd

    I would like to read the work of Erin Kelly!

  95. Brenda Elsner

    I would love to read this book!!!

  96. Kenneth Konczal

    The television series was super.How can this book be bad?

  97. Heather

    sounds like a captivating read. Thanks.

  98. Tricha Leary

    thank you

  99. Donna Bruno

    I’d love to win this one!

  100. philip halter

    sounds like a great book to own

  101. Francine Anchondo

    Thanks for the chance.

  102. Patty Dump

    I would enjoy reading this story. I really like stories without the typical “bad boy hero falls in love with…” Thanks.

  103. Buddy Garrett

    It sounds like a great read. Thanks.

  104. Sand Lopez

    I would love to read this!

  105. Regina m

    It’s a mystery who will win. Randomizer, pick me.

  106. Dan Carr

    sign me up!

  107. Phoenix Vie

    The original series was very powerful, & I’d like to read the book.

  108. Carl White

    [b]I would very much enjoy winning this book.[/b]

  109. Tim H. Moss

    Good deal, count me in!

  110. Kelley Tackett

    I watched Broadchurch when it was on BBC America and I thought it was fantastic. I didn’t buy the book for our library because I think it’s going to be confusing for people. They hear that there is a book, but the Fox show is called Gracepoint, so people will be looking for a book called Gracepoint and there isn’t one. I would like to read the book to see what was left out of the BBC America version. I’m still on the fence about watching Gracepoint.

  111. Rebecca Kesa

    Would something to read .

  112. L MW

    This looks interesting! 🙂

  113. Lisa Ahlstedt

    Loved the series! Would love to read the book!

  114. CherylMc

    would love this

  115. MariaL

    Sounds interesting – I’ll keep an eye out for the book and the show

Comments are closed.