The Ties That Bind by Erin Kelly
I met Erin Kelly for the first time last summer when I attended The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School at which she led an excellent course. I enjoyed the summer school and you can read my review about it at bookreviewstoday.info/2015/11/15/swanwick-writers-summer-school-2015/. Erin Kelly is a very impressive tutor. I like her style and her approach to writing, which she shares openhandedly. It was at The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School I bought The Ties That Bind. The Conference takes place in the beautiful surroundings of Hayes Hall in Derbyshire England. There is a review at hotelandrestaurantreviews.com/2015/11/15/the-hayes-conference-centre-swanwick-atherton-derbyshire-england/. The Ties That Bind was the first book by Erin Kelly that I had read, but it was an excellent read and will not be the last.
The Ties That Bind is a psychological thriller set in Brighton. The book begins with
an exciting scene from the climax of the story with the principal character, Luke waking up bound fast in a cellar. Luke Considine is a journalist and true crime writer who works in an art gallery to make ends meet. He meets Jem at an auction and the two quickly begin a relationship. While Jem lavishes money and expensive gifts on Luke, he is also possessive and volatile. Ineviatably, things go bad between them, Luke flees to Brighton to stay with a friend. She is working as a real estate agent and her boss just happens to be 60s gangster turned property magnate and philanthropist, Joss Grand.
Grand’s life story is the lead Luke has been looking for, and he becomes determined to pursue the truth behind Grand’s dramatic transformation and the mysterious death of his chief henchman, Jacky Nye, in 1968. Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there is more to the story than meets the eye. He manages to convince Grand to be interviewed for a book about his life. However, the more Luke finds out about Grand, the more danger he puts himself in; and meanwhile, a heartbroken and dangerously lovesick Jem is still trying to hunt Luke down.
Luke is a likeable character who is easy to root for throughout the book. When Luke finds a clue, he chases it up and finds some eccentric characters with secrets galore, each of whom fills in a different gap in what he knows. A murky picture starts to emerge.Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye’s murder. He investigates whether Grand there that night and if he really as reformed a character as he claims. He also looks into s the girl in the red coat was, who was seen fleeing the murder scene. Luke realises too late that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger.
If you enjoy psychological thrillers, I highly recommend The Ties That Bind by Erin Kelly. While a few of the minor characters are not as deftly drawn as the main protagonists, that is a very minor criticism of a very good novel.