Pulpit Rock (#4 Hell Bay Series) by Kate Rhodes

The fourth instalment in a gripping and atmospheric crime series set on a small island where there is no escape . . .

Book blurb

As the scorching summer sun beats down on St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly, DI Ben Kitto and his team are training for the annual Swimathon, until they discover a body hanging from Pulpit Rock, dressed in a bridal gown.

An obsessive killer is hunting for female victims. Kitto has no choice but to stop anyone leaving St Mary’s, but soon another woman is attacked.

The killer must be a trusted member of the community. Kitto’s investigation is being watched closely, the killer always one step ahead, as the next victim is chosen . . .


My thoughts

In Pulpit Rock, which is the latest book in the Hell Bay Series by Kate Rhodes, we have Ben and his team chasing after a rather twisted killer. He needs to protect the people of St Mary’s Island when a woman is found, by Ben and his fellow swimathon teammates, hanging from Pulpit Rock. It’s going to be a particularly hard task when they realise whose body it is.

As the hours and days pass there are more women taken and bodies found. But what is the significance of the gold Cornish jewellery, the brides dresses and the words found on the victims?

Ben is in charge of the investigation and, with his boss away on holiday, everything is on his shoulders. He knows that individuals are holding back information which may well be important. Even if it’s not it is definitely making his job more difficult and that isn’t helped by a member of the team being a possible suspect.

You are drawn in more and more with every line and it is with bated breath that you follow Ben as he urgently seeks that vital piece of evidence that will lead him to the killer.

As he and the team follow clues and chase leads it becomes more and more frustrating for Ben. He has much to loose beyond and because of the investigation yet also the possibility of better things.

This is a dark, difficult story of loss which leads to a tormented soul committing terrible crimes. As more women are taken will Ben be able to save them? Who is the killer? How are they able to commit such heinous crimes without detection?

The books are set on the Isles of Scilly and this backdrop is beautifully depicted by Kate Rhodes who obviously has a deep love and appreciation not only of the place but also of its people.

The characters are drawn by an author with an insightful and wonderfully perceptive pen. Ben is the main character – the hero if you like – but who is often as vulnerable and misdirected as many of the other characters. He leads the team yet feels the weight of being in charge, he wants to protect everyone yet that may mean he or others getting in harms way. This sense of pressure further builds tension and urgency in the storyline.

The cast of ‘minor’ characters along with Bens colleagues, friends and family are given no lesser treatment and, with this authors ability to portray them with her sharp, insightful grasp of human nature, they too come alive on the page.

At this point I would just like to mention Shadow, Bens canine companion, he is independent, brave and with an amazing ability to understand what he needs to do – he is a joy to behold.

Just a little note to the author: how could you do that? You took my breath away! So close to the end and I had to blink away tears so I could read on and find out everything!

This is a gripping, well paced and plotted storyline, beautifully written it is indeed a tremendous book and I urge you all to read it and all of this wonderful series.

I own and have read all the books in this series and many of the Alice Quentin series, which are also well worth reading.

Here are my thoughts on those I have reviewed: Hell Bay | Ruin Beach | Burnt Island | Cross Bones Yard (Dr Alice Quentin #1) | Fatal Harmony (Dr Alice Quentin, #6)


All thoughts in this review are entirely my own and I received this book simply because the author wanted to express her thanks for my support.

And so it was with sheer delight that I received a hardback copy of Pulpit Rock from Kate Rhodes who, although we have never met, has always kindly responded to my comments on Twitter. You can only imagine how surprised and chuffed I was upon seeing my name as a ‘Twitter pal’ in the acknowledgments.

Thank you, Kate, so very much for your generosity and thoughtfulness.


Published: Simon and Schuster (15/10/2020)

Buy: Your Local Bookshop – Find | Bookshop.org | Waterstones | AmazonSmileUK | Amazon.com | Hive

©️John Goddard, 2014


Kate Rhodes was born in Greenwich, in South London, but now lives in Cambridge. She is a member of the crime writing group Killer Women, and an award-winning writer of crime fiction and poetry. She began her writing career as a poet, winning a Bridport Prize, and twice being shortlisted for the Forward Prize. In 2014 she won the Ruth Rendell Short Story prize. She has written 5 crime novels in the acclaimed Alice Quentin series, set in London. Her new Hell Bay series is set on the Isles of Scilly and has been optioned for TV.

Kate worked in a wide variety of jobs before becoming a writer. Her first job was as an usherette at Greenwich Theatre, followed by years as a sales assistant in a record shop, waitressing, then finally going to university. Kate completed a PhD, then spent two years travelling and teaching in Florida and Texas, before returning to the UK, where she has taught in sixth form colleges and universities.

She often gives creative writing workshops in schools, colleges and prisons. Kate also contributes regularly to panels at literary festivals.

The Guardian described her novel, HELL BAY as ‘beautifully written and expertly plotted; a masterclass in “closed world” crime fiction.’

@K_RhodesWriter |Kate Rhodes Website | Kate Rhodes on Facebook


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