ARC Review: Hell Bay by Will Thomas (Barker & Llewelyn Book 8)

HellBayCoverSynopsis from Amazon:

At the request of Her Majesty’s government, private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker agrees to take on his least favorite kind of assignment—he’s to provide security for a secret conference with the French government. The conference is to take place on the private estate of Lord Hargrave on a remote island off the coast of Cornwall. The goal of the conference is the negotiation of a new treaty with France. The cover story for the gathering is a house party—an attempt to introduce Lord Hargrave’s two unmarried sons to potential mates.

But shortly after the parties land at the island, Lord Hargrave is killed by a sniper shot, and the French ambassador’s head of security is found stabbed to death. The only means of egress from the island—a boat—has been sent away, and the means of signaling for help has been destroyed. Trapped in a manor house with no way of escape, Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, must uncover which among them is the killer before the next victim falls.


*** Thanks to St Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books via NetGalley who provided me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.***

Sadly, I did not love this entry in the Barker and Llewelyn series. I really wanted to love it, and it was enjoyable, but not in the way previous entries were.

Hell Bay by Will Thomas is the eighth book in the Barker and Llewelyn historical mystery series. Set sometime after the events of the previous book that takes on Jack the Ripper, Hell Bay changes up the typical Barker and Llewelyn setting of Victorian London, and takes us to a faraway, secluded island in the Isles of Scilly. Barker and Llewelyn are hired to be private security at a party that doubles as a cover-up for political conversations. When the host is murdered, Barker and Llewelyn must solve the crime to save everyone on the island.

I’m a big fan of Will Thomas’ Barker and Llewelyn series, have been for years, and have reviewed the previous two installments, Fatal Enquiry and Anatomy of Evil, and enjoyed them. This entry, Hell Bay, I’m sorry to say does not compare to previous books. The problem is that Barker and Llewelyn are, in this book, trapped on a faraway island, with no chance of escape, and thus many of the historical aspects that are enjoyable in past books are just not here.

I missed Barker and Llewelyn wandering the dirty streets of London, and interacting with the variety of characters there. In this book, since there is a house party going on, we do have some characters, but most of them are fairly bland in comparison to those we know and love from earlier entries in the series.

We do have a tiny bit of historical information in regards to the War of the Pacific, a war between Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, which I hadn’t heard of before reading this book, and I wanted more information. So, the historical detail that I have come to expect from a Barker and Llewelyn book was missing in Hell Bay.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. I did enjoy it! The murder mystery aspect was well done, and I had my suspicions of whodunit early on, and here is another mystery where motive matters, and it surprised me.

In terms of this being a typical manor house mystery, with a “closed circle of suspects”, this was a good mystery, with twists and turns and multiple murders. It’s just that it is very different from previous Barker and Llewelyn books, due to the lack of historical detail, and that was my main issue with the book.

Bottom Line: Disappointing, but enjoyable. I’m looking forward to Barker and Llewelyn returning to London!

*** Thanks to St Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books via NetGalley who provided me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.***

Hell Bay is scheduled to be released on October 25, 2016.

Links to Hell Bay at Amazon   and Goodreads

Links to my reviews of   Fatal Enquiry   and   Anatomy of Evil



15 thoughts on “ARC Review: Hell Bay by Will Thomas (Barker & Llewelyn Book 8)

    1. Thanks! Yeah, it was so disappointing to not love this book. I do hope the next in the series returns to bringing in more history to the story, as it really is a great series with fun characters.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow – really?? That’s a shame that you’ve seen a similar one all over lately – I really don’t like it when covers to books are similar! It gets very confusing.
      And one would think with all of the design talent out there something original could be created.
      The last 2 books in the series, Fatal Enquiry, and Anatomy of Evil, both have a similar feel to their covers, so maybe you’ve just seen those? I hope so, as I really liked the design and images in this cover and those other ones, and am really disappointed to hear that there are similar ones out there.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh wow – I’ve seen it happen with lesser known titles before, and it’s really irritating to me.
          I went to an author event at my local bookstore not all that long ago, and the author featured stated that she didn’t have a choice as to what her cover looked like, and she was just lucky that she loved the cover that was chosen! I can’t even imagine what it must be like for authors to spend years writing a book and then to have their cover be one that another book has.
          I find book covers fascinating, and they really can make a difference in whether or not I read a book. With so much out there, I’m surprised that covers can be so similar sometimes!

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Those covers are TERRIBLE!!!! Oh my word – so, so, SO bad!
              I don’t understand how anyone can design a cover on something they only get the synopsis of. Synopses are wrong, or are just plain bad so many times, and they miss the nuance of the story and the language used.
              If I were to ever be a cover designer (which I think would be the greatest job!) I would want to read the book before designing anything for it.
              I can see a synopsis if you are just using a special font or design that is font-focused, but for a design that is focused on an image just makes no sense to do if you haven’t read the book (or at least a good portion of it). I guess that is how Anne of Green Gables ended up with blonde hair on that one cover.
              There are a lot of bad covers on NetGalley… I’m so surprised – there is such a wealth of good design talent out there. Maybe the publishers just don’t want to pay for it, but a great cover helps to sell the book, so it should be something that is invested in (I feel).

              Liked by 1 person

                    1. Interesting! Makes sense if it is a short turnaround, probably no time to read the book and design within the time frame. And with cover designers not reading the book it does make sense that some covers would be off just slightly from what the books content is.
                      Thanks for the link – great, strong covers!

                      Liked by 1 person

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