Written by Erin Kelly and Chris Chibnall — In March 2013, nine million of us became hooked on Broadchurch, a multi-award winning and groundbreaking ITV series which kept us enthralled over eight dramatic weeks. Following the first episode, which delivered a huge emotional punch, the story unfolded seamlessly with its breathtaking script, emotive cinematography and the spellbinding performances of its stellar British cast.
In consultation with Broadchurch writer and executive producer Chris Chibnall, crime novelist Erin Kelly has created a world that Broadchurch fans will absolutely love, and that those new to this phenomenal thriller will also find instantly engaging. It has the added bonus of including background not shown in the series – in-depth explorations of the lives and back stories of the unforgettable cast of characters.
The story opens in a small seaside community with a bird’s eye view of the perfectly normal breakfast routine of an ordinary family. They are Beth and Mark Latimer, daughter Chloe, and Beth’s mum Liz. Believing that their young son Danny has departed for his paper round and school already, they carry on with their normal routine.
The action cuts to DS Ellie Miller who’s just returned to Dorset from a Florida holiday with husband Joe and son Tom, who is Danny Latimer’s best friend. Going back to work Miller is eager to hear if she has achieved her promotion, which seems to be a shoo-in. She is soon confronted with the news that the DI role has been given to new arrival Alec Hardy, and she is upset about losing out to a man. What’s more, he’s an officer with a badly handled investigation in his recent past.
Her consternation is temporarily halted by the news that a body has been found on the beach, but further upset ensues. The body is that of 10-year-old Danny, and all the evidence suggests that he was murdered. As news spreads through this tight knit community, suspicion falls on several residents, all of whom have dark secrets that unfold during the story. With DS Miller’s very close links both personally and professionally with the residents, and the unfolding drama caused by the arrival of Alec Hardy, the scene is set for this emotionally charged, disturbing, and utterly compelling thriller.
I was an avid viewer of the TV series, so was extremely interested to see how the nuances and atmosphere of the original transferred into novel form. In a similar style to David Hewson’s recreation of The Killing, Kelly has completely captured the rolling tension, cinematic detail and superlative characterisation of the programme. The very ordinariness of this seaside community and the relationships, alliances and suspicions evinced in its inhabitants form the bedrock of the book, and even if you are new to the story, you will be instantly mesmerised by Kelly’s paper adaptation.
The book has a perfectly delivered series of red herrings, and also quietly manipulates your sympathy or resentment towards certain characters, this way and that. Viewed as a straightforward crime thriller, and without the benefit of hindsight, I guarantee the book will test your investigative skills, and will have your own finger of suspicion moving from person to person. Original viewers of Broadchurch will quickly identify the little twists and new details added to the novelisation – a neat touch that enhances the story even further. Whether or not you were a fan of the TV show, this is one crime book that does not disappoint.
Read last year’s interview with Erin Kelly here. Broadchurch is released on 14 August.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars