Title: Foxglove Copse (Porthkennack #5)
Author: Alex Beecroft
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: September 4, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Suspense
Page Count: 249
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
After a massive anxiety attack, Sam Atkins left his high-powered job in the City and committed himself to life on the road in a small van. Six months in, he’s running out of savings and coming to the conclusion that he might have to go home to his emotionally abusive family.
Needing time to think, he takes a walk through a copse by the Cornish roadside, only to stumble upon the body of a ritualistically killed sheep. As he’s trying to work out what the symbols around the animal mean, the sheep’s owner, Jennifer, and her nephew, Ruan Gwynn, come upon him.
Ruan is a kind-hearted young man with a large supportive clan, and since he and Sam feel almost instant attraction, he doesn’t want to believe Sam is a sheep-killing cultist. In fact, the moment he lays eyes on Sam’s miserable solitary life, he wants to rescue the man. But as the killings escalate, he and Sam need to stop whoever is actually to blame before they can concentrate on saving each other.
I’m enjoying the Porthkennack Series from Riptide Publishing, all set in the same small seaside Cornish town, but each with a stand-alone plot. While Foxglove Copse is not my favorite book in the series, it has some interesting elements that kept my interest.
Sam Atkins lives a lonely existence, given to crippling anxiety attacks, traveling around Britain in a small converted van (think tiny tiny house) and faking normality during his infrequent contact with others. He has just settled in a small secluded woodland outside of Porthkennack when he comes upon a gruesome ritualistic sheep killing, and is immediately suspected of carving up the sheep (with a chainsaw) and placed under police investigation. The landowner’s nephew Ruan is fascinated by Sam and once he learns that Sam is not a “sheep-mutilating cultist” they work together to find the culprit, as well as the person who is cyberbullying young people in the area …. to death.
Foxglove Copse works as a mystery / suspense with two intertwined plot lines, and the unraveling of what exactly is going on is intriguing. Where the story fails, for me, is the romance between Sam and Ruan. Ruan is firmly entrenched in the bosom of his family, and it’s almost alien to him that Sam is so estranged from his family and their influence. We get glimpses of what may be the root cause of Sam’s anxiety, but Sam’s personality seems so intangible and undeveloped:
“He’s like he’s got one foot in fairyland, you know? Like he’s too special for this world.
With the sex scenes off page and not a lot of character development, there just isn’t enough chemistry between the two lads to make you feel invested in their relationship. Also, the pace of this story seems so slow – with a very melancholy feel – until the ending finally pulls everything together in a somewhat unexpected way.
I ended up very much on the fence about Foxglove Copse and gave it 3 stars. I think the story will appeal to some readers, but it did not work for me.