I can’t believe it is almost five years ago since I wrote this review of Jan Newton’s brilliant crime story. Originally, I was given an ARC of Remember No More by the publishers, Honno, for a fair and honest review. I said at the time:”Believe me, this is one to look out for!!“ I wasn’t wrong. And now Honno have released Remember No More as an audio book: https://tinyurl.com/32cm2n8s. So now we have a choice… read, or listen – it’s brilliant.
Newly promoted DS Julie Kite is at a crossroads. Her husband’s new job takes her away from urban Manchester and its inner city problems to a new life in tranquil mid-Wales. It is to be a new start for them both. On her first day at Builth Wells police station, Julie is thrust unexpectedly into the centre of a murder investigation in a remote farming community. At the same time, Stephen Collins is set free from HMP Strangeways. He immediately makes his way back to mid-Wales, the scene of his heinous crime, in order to confront those who had a hand in his incarceration.
The twists and turns of the investigation into the death of solicitor Gareth Watkin force DS Kite to confront her own demons alongside those of her new community and the lengths to which we’ll go to protect our families.
This is a plot with many twists and turns. The depths of the historic layers are slowly revealed alongside the introduction of the protagonist, Detective Sergeant Julie Kite and her struggles in both her work and home life. I loved the author’s ability to balance – and juggle – both, and to keep the reader interested throughout the story. For me the genre of crime fiction can only work if there are false leads, clues that baffle or can give a ‘eureka’ moment. Remember No More does all these.
The story is told from an omniscient point of view, weighted mostly from the protagonist’s viewpoint and this works, as I have the feeling we will be hearing more from DS Kite. But there is also an insight to the other characters and this adds depth to the them; to their struggles, their loyalties, their place in both the community and their families. The characters are well rounded and it is easy to empathise with some of them – and to recognise the weakness and malevolence in others.
The dialogue works well, differentiating the Welsh born characters and contrasting with the accent of Julie Kite and other Northern England characters. The internal dialogue gives greater perception to them all. I liked the slow internal acceptance of the protagonist’s change of life and work situation from Northern England to Wales.
I think one of the great strengths in the author’s writing is the descriptions of the settings. If I can’t picture the world the characters live in, it doesn’t work for me. Jan Newton bases her book in mid Wales. The details are authentic and give a tangible sense of place. I admired her ability to bring the sense of place alive. I was immediately drawn in by a very early description: ” the road was hemmed in either side by reeds and grasses, which had been bleached by the winter’s snow and were still untouched by the spring sunshine…”.And later, “the car rattled over a cattle grid and a vista of villages and isolated farms opened up below them as the road hair-pinned to the right, before descending along the edge of a steep valley. the tops of the hills were the pale browns of moorland, but the valley bottoms were already lush with meadows and hedges.” Good stuff!!
If I had any reservations about the story it would be about the relationship between the protagonist and her husband. But this is only because I wanted to know the background of their marriage. Maybe this is something to be revealed in the next story of DS Julie Kite.
A couple of last mentions; I love the cover, the image is wonderful, I feel it is the scene that the buzzard sees in the Prologue. Oh, I do like prologues!
This is a book I have no hesitation in recommending to any reader who enjoys a good strong crime mystery.
I enjoyed reading Remember No More, and, by the way, there’s another offering from DS Julie Kite …
Newly promoted DS Julie Kite has been in sleepy mid-Wales for mere months when she’s faced with her second murder case. A man’s body has been found by school kids trekking the Monk’s Trod. The trail takes her back north to her parents in Manchester and to a housing estate in Blackpool. It’s not a simple case – a young mother has disappeared, but so has her son and her next door neighbour’s wife. And the husband of the landlady of the B&B where the girl was staying. When an ex-serviceman farmhand with PTSD attempts to take his own life the case gets more complex still.
Jan Newton grew up in Manchester and Derbyshire and spent twenty years in the Chilterns before moving to mid Wales in 2005. She has worked as a bilingual secretary, an accountant, and in the Welsh stream of Builth Wells Primary School. She plays the euphonium in Llandrindod and Knighton brass bands
Jan graduated from Swansea University in 2015 with a Masters in Creative Writing and has won the Allen Raine Short Story Competition, the WI’s Lady Denman Cup, the Lancashire and North West Magazine’s prize for humorous short stories and the Oriel Davies Gallery’s prize for nature writing. She is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.