It’s been quite a while since I attended a BAFTA preview screening of episode one of ITV’s new drama Broadchurch starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman in February 2013. It was clear then that this was something special, but the incredible success it went on to achieve over its eight week run was a rarity on television these days, with millions of people tuning in weekly to see the mystery of who killed Danny Latimer unfold.
Filming on series two continues in West Bay, Dorset and the surrounding area. However as the wait for that new series (due next year) continues, last month saw the publication of the official tie-in novel. Written by bestselling thriller author Erin Kelly, the novel is based on series creator Chris Chibnall’s story. I admit to being a little sceptical about such a release. What was the point of a novel of a series we’d already watched? Who would really buy it? I was therefore curious enough to pick up a copy to take with me on my recent holiday.
Reading, rather than watching Broadchurch proved to be very enjoyable and provided a different perspective on the story. The plot of course is the same, but in written form, Erin Kelly is able to flesh out the characters in a way only a novel can. She successfully gives the reader access in to the minds of the various characters in a deeper, interesting way. This is especially effective for certain characters in particular – DI Alec Hardy, as we learn more about Sandbrook and its effect on his psyche as well as his sadness at the absence of a relationship with his daughter, Beth Latimer, as she struggles to come to terms with her loss, her marriage difficulties and her pregnancy and DS Ellie Miller, as she struggles with her relationship with her boss and her growing distrust of her community.
The novel is also able to include scenes not in the television series, which, although short, add another layer of detail to the characters and tragedy of Danny’s death. I also found it incredibly interesting that, although I knew the outcome from the outset, it didn’t mean I was any less engrossed in Erin Kelly’s book and was as eager to reach its conclusion as I am when reading any other novel. The last few chapters of the book still provide the same tension and emotion as you would find reading any brilliant thriller. We may know which house Hardy is heading to as he follows the tracker on Danny’s phone, but that doesn’t make it any less tense to read (or didn’t for me) and the chapter in which we are taken back to the terrible night of Danny’s death is very effective in giving us an uncomfortable glimpse in to the actions and thoughts of his killer.
The novel may also bring a new audience to Broadchurch. Despite its huge viewing figures, there are bound to be some who may not have watched it and who may find the novel a great way to be introduced to the community of Broadchurch prior to the second series starting next year. As a standalone thriller, it is a well written, tense, layered thriller, whose characters are interesting and engaging and which moves at a pace that will keep the reader turning the pages frantically until the end.
So what can we expect from series two? Reading the book reminded me about SOCO Brian asking Ellie out. I’d certainly like to see if that’s become something (plus any excuse to have more of Peter De Jersey on my television screen). There has also been the tantalising hint from Erin Kelly that Chris Chibnall provided a short sentence, added quite early in the book, which apparently won’t make sense to anybody and which is a hint as to the direction of series two. That is another reason to read the book – can you spot it? On first reading, the only thing I can point to is one of the locations flagged on the map at the front of the book. Number 14 is Jocelyn Knight’s house – this is also briefly referred to on page 78 when Jack recounts seeing Danny arguing with the postman up past Jocelyn Knight’s house. She wasn’t a character in series one so who is she? This could be it possibly? I’ll no doubt see if I can spot any other clues on a second read before next year! If anyone does think they have solved this little riddle, I’d be interested to hear your other theories in the comments section.
Whether you watched Broadchurch or not, this novel is an exciting and enjoyable read that I’d certainly recommend.
Broadchurch by Erin Kelly is available through all the usual book stockists.