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Bitter Fruits Detective Inspector Erica Martin s first case in the university city of Durham is Emily Brabents, a first year student, who is found dead in the riverDI Martin visits Joyce College, a cradle for the country s future elite, and finds a close knit community full of secrets, jealousy and obsessionHer search reveals a vicious online trolling culture but could Emily, from the privileged and popular crowd, have been a victim Should the sudden confession to the murder by the student president be believed And just who is the mysterious Daniel Shepherd whose name keeps appearing in the investigation Bitter Fruits Alice Clark PlattsI love debut novels They are such a lottery They can be dire and finishing them can feel like wading through treacle They can be okay and you sense some promise and defer ultimate judgement until the next one Or they can completely blow you away.I couldn t put this book down and I mean that literally Everything was put on hold until I finished it.I hesitate to use the word brilliant because it is overused and my response is subjective but for me this wasn t Bitter Fruits Alice Clark PlattsI love debut novels They are such a lottery They can be dire and finishing them can feel like wading through treacle They can be okay and you sense some promise and defer ultimate judgement until the next one Or they can completely blow you away.I couldn t put this book down and I mean that literally Everything was put on hold until I finished it.I hesitate to use the word brilliant because it is overused and my response is subjective but for me this wasn t far short.It s a deceptive book andsubstantial than it seems at first And yet curiously there is a danger that this substance could be overlooked as the reader focuses purely on the crime aspect because it is so well done the attention doesn t stray The plot is tight, well constructed with a veritable shoal of red herrings to lure the reader into believing they have solved this crime The characters are believable There is no holding back when highlighting some of today s contemporary issues internet bullying so endemic nowadays, the morality of the media, or their lack of it, the dynamics of a police force pressured into delivering results unreasonably quickly to satisfy the bureaucrats and social commentators as if catching a murderer is so easy And throughout the book how hard it is to be a young person in today s world I could go on the book has such a to to offer.There were imperfections the story uses a dual narrative technique and there were a couple of inconsistencies, for example a character developed in the first narrative was suddenly mentioned in the second with no exposition Some of the descriptive passages were so typical of a debut novel, that desire to demonstrate all at once the writer s abilities But I m nit picking and this book doesn t deserve it.I m very excited by this writer and I do hope there aretales of this calibre to issue forth from her pen Alice Clark Platts I am a fan Bitter Fruits is an impressive debut novel which is both police procedural and part psychological thriller and proves gripping, eerily atmospheric and sheds light on the inescapable pressures and strains that come with being thrown into an all consuming environment specifically one of the bastions of higher education and privilege that can be alien territory to those unprepared for the experience This is a story which explores the death of a student from both the aspect of establishing guilt, Bitter Fruits is an impressive debut novel which is both police procedural and part psychological thriller and proves gripping, eerily atmospheric and sheds light on the inescapable pressures and strains that come with being thrown into an all consuming environment specifically one of the bastions of higher education and privilege that can be alien territory to those unprepared for the experience This is a story which explores the death of a student from both the aspect of establishing guilt, right through to the underpinnings and psychology of those closely linked to the victim in the run up to her demise Newly transplanted from Newcastle CID to the hallowed university town of Durham, just three weeks into her new job sees DI Erica Martin given a baptism of fire when Regatta weekend results in the discovery of Joyce College fresher, Emily Brabents, dead body in the weir With eyes glazed, clad in only a t shirt, evidence of self harming and nasty marks around her neck, DI Martin suspects murder But with an off the bat confession from a fellow student, elected president Simon Rush, an overly involved College President, Phillip Mason, and a college culture of trolling, cyber bullying and online sexual harassment rife, DI Martin and her sidekick, DS Jones, have their work cut out With Rush promptly handed over for a psychiatric evaluation DI Martin attempts to gain a handle on Emily s complex personality and finds herself faced with a naive and insecure young woman under the misconception that allowing gratuitous and pornographic photos and videos of herself to be circulated somehow equated to empowering feminist behaviour.The majority of the storyline is narrated in the third person and focuses on DI Martin s endeavours, however this is complemented with the interspersed journal entries of sensitive English student and outsider, Daniel Shepherd, with his deeply ironic and scathing view of the culture within the university, and some snippy commentary by online journalist, Sean Egan of The Durham Chronicle Distinctions between each of these elements of the narrative are well marked and this make up draws the reader into a fascinating expose of the salacious details of the permissive student culture, some of which is admittedly a little far fetched Emily s willingness for photos to be openly shared, not to mention that the college authorities knowingly permitting such behaviour With DI Martin and DS Jones attempting to get to grips with Emily s social circle and pinning down her immature best friend, Annabel, and odious boyfriend, Nick, as they wait to resume questioning Simon Rush, suspicion starts to fall on Emily s background and quick tempered father, Michael Brabents However, as the mysterious Daniel Shepherd refuses to surface, DI Martin attempts to clarify his part in Emily s story through his email correspondence with compromised university counsellor, Stephanie Suleiman Although the pace of the investigation does flounder a little as the second half opens and the convoluted denouement risks confusion, the superior psychological aspects of Bitter Fruits makes this a solid four star read DI Erica Martin isof a thinker as opposed to a grafter and remains an enigmatic presence as she conducts operations under the eyes of the university and a local media who seems to be curiously well informed As pressure comes from her superiors and with tourism and university morale reliant on and speedy resolution, DI Martin s steadfast refusal to be rushed is to her credit Having moved to the market town of Chester le Street, Martin s marriage is increasingly showing strains with her older husband, Jim, slow to settle in and Bitter Fruits hints at a latent attraction between her and boss, DCI Sam Butterworth although this is never explored However, for the most part, Clark Platts lets an gritty plot and untangling the mess drive the novel and thankfully does not seem to feel the need to encumber her protagonist with either maverick tendencies or myriad problems It is this sound emphasis on getting to grips with who Emily was as opposed to the facade she presented before going on to explore just what has made her a victim that is the focus of the novel and introduces a distinctive voice to the world of crime fiction I have a predisposition to novels with an academic setting and having had a similar university experience to Durham and a sister who attended, I felt it really captured the often stifling atmosphere and the desire to fit in and be accepted amongst ones peers Some of the pretentiousness surrounding revered Joyce College was, I fear, a little over embellishedfrom the side of the college authorities who seemed to willingly buy into the whole culture of bullying which is a ludicrously unlikely scenario Whilst I doubt that such a culture would ever be allowed to rear its head in such a cloistered college setting, this does not stop Bitter Fruits proving compelling and memorably different from the ranks of mainstream crime fiction Clark Platts has crafted a literary debut crime novel which is intelligently written and makes some insightful and damning points on an increasingly digital age where the younger generations can be drawn into a dog eat dog world of online naming and shaming and go to extraordinary lengths to be accepted by their peers This is a series that I intend to continue with and I have already purchased Alice Clark Platts follow up, The Taken, featuring a return for DI Erica Martin Bitter Fruits was a really beautifully written novel, haunting, atmospheric, very lyrical in places and a heady mix of police procedural and psychological thriller one woven into the other in an intelligent and really engaging style that makes this a real page turner Emily is found dead, and Martin, newly arrived to the area is put on the case As she investigates, dark secrets begin to emerge about the college Emily attended in Durham, indeed dark secrets are surfacing all roundIt is actu Bitter Fruits was a really beautifully written novel, haunting, atmospheric, very lyrical in places and a heady mix of police procedural and psychological thriller one woven into the other in an intelligent and really engaging style that makes this a real page turner Emily is found dead, and Martin, newly arrived to the area is put on the case As she investigates, dark secrets begin to emerge about the college Emily attended in Durham, indeed dark secrets are surfacing all roundIt is actually quite difficult to describe how well this works, how perfectly pitched it is both in tone and flow Martin s investigation, diary entries from a boy called Daniel who charts his ongoing friendship with Emily both leading one into the other and back again to paint a full picture There are some wonderfully deep characters here as well Emily is an enigma, Daniel has such a distinct and intriguing narrative voice, then you have Martin determined to put it all together and get justice for the victim.Shades of The Secret History here in a good way dare I say though in some ways much better because the author resists the urge to ramble on but still has an absolutely spot on sense when it comes to using language to invoke emotional response Switching between beautiful and practical in the feel of it, this novel worked for me on every level.Overall then really really good I m a fan A huge fan and this comes highly recommended from me.Happy Reading Folks I know this book has been out a while now and I am trying to go backwards in my line of read to reviews This is a great debut novel, I notice a lot of debut novels that are coming out recently have been of a high standard and have really captured my attention, this one being of the same mind Its haunting.Emily the girl who was murdered is a very complicated girl, I found her character very interesting.The Investigation into her death and the minds of those surrounding it were awesome.A little I know this book has been out a while now and I am trying to go backwards in my line of read to reviews This is a great debut novel, I notice a lot of debut novels that are coming out recently have been of a high standard and have really captured my attention, this one being of the same mind Its haunting.Emily the girl who was murdered is a very complicated girl, I found her character very interesting.The Investigation into her death and the minds of those surrounding it were awesome.A littleabout the detective would be have been good, a bit surrounding him But this just a minor thing for me, doesn t spoil the book, just something I would prefer personally.My thanks to Penguin UK Michael Joseph via Net Galley for my copy

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