Badlands: Gary Kruse

Great debut

Set in Cornwall – a little counterintuitive, maybe, considering the darkness we’re about to discover – Badlands is a page-turning thriller from a great new voice in the genre.

The writing is fantastic; Kruse’s ability to use a decent verb makes the narrative fair trip along, uncovering mystery and mayhem in his small village setting. The main characters are well drawn and authentic, driven by broken backgrounds and betrayals which are gradually uncovered as the plot unfolds giving the book a great noir vibe. Didn’t have a clue what was going on until the end.

Had a few misgivings about the aliases. Even though this novel was as much about loss of identity as about finding answers, I found them a tad contrived. Aaaaand I’m not sure I was fully invested in Willow-she wasn’t particularly likeable (though, it has to be said, not a lot of the characters were, which always poses a difficulty for writers.) That said, I LOVED Goddard, an unequivocable bad sort despite the occasional signs of a conscience. Which made his final scene nicely layered and suitably dramatic.

All in all, a great debut. Kruse can write gritty. I hope the next one is even grittier.

Surf. Sand. Smugglers. Murder.

Willow has run as far as she can.

From her home.

From the friends she betrayed.

From the family who betrayed her.

From her own name.

But a cry for help will bring her back.

Back to face her family.

Back to face the sins of her past.

In the search for her sister, Willow will face deception and betrayal, before she’ll find love – and herself. But will she uncover how close the enemy is, or will she become another victim of the Badlands?

Back to face the darkness at the heart of Cornwall.

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