Jack Redman, estate agent to the smart Cheshire set, should be living the life of his dreams in North Wales with his partner Anna. But his commute from the leafy suburbs of Wilmslow, to the rural bliss of Gwern farm on the outskirts of Conwy, is fraught with anxiety. Caught between a rock and hard place, Jack struggles to organize a life which is made all the more complicated by his increasingly demanding ex-wife Patsy, his precocious daughter Lottie, and the uncertain paternity of two of his children. Whilst he struggles to keep the peace with Anna, the phrase, oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive, springs to mind as Jack Redman tries to juggle his increasingly difficult personal life.
All too often sequels can become a bit of damp squib with less on offer than what has gone before, but rest assured that this is not the case with Dark Water. This follow-on story picks up on the threads which were left hanging at the end of Wild Water. With her usual panache and fine attention to detail Jan Ruth brings together all the pieces of a story which very quickly become a roller coaster of emotional turmoil and smouldering resentments. There is never a lull in the narrative, the plot is allowed to evolve beautifully, and there some really lovely, light moments which offset the darker elements of the story. The banter between Jack and his small daughter, Lottie, is quite irresistible and I found myself laughing out loud at some of their dialogue, and likewise the touching moments between Anna and her dog Benson, brought tears to my eyes and echoed the memories of what it feels like to lose something precious. With the tension is racked up to an almost impossible level, Jack, Anna and Patsy get caught up in a dark and deadly story of long buried secrets, which threatens not just their relationship with each other, but which also has a profound effect on their family and friends.
As with any part-two story, it is almost essential to have read the first book, and whilst it’s not impossible to pick up the story, you will miss the finer points and that would be to do both the story and the author a disservice as the books should be read sequentially. I am heartened that the ending of Dark Water could almost lend itself to another visit to this beautiful part of Wales and I’m sure that Jack Redman and company have a lot more life in them for future stories. I really hope so…. Josie Barton, top 500 Amazon reviewer.
5 out of 5 stars