Black Reed Bay by Rod Reynolds #Review

Don’t trust ANYONE…

When a young woman makes a distressing middle-of-the-night call to 911, apparently running for her life in a quiet, exclusive beachside neighbourhood, miles from her home, everything suggests a domestic incident.

Except no one has seen her since, and something doesn’t sit right with the officers at Hampstead County PD. With multiple suspects and witnesses throwing up startling inconsistencies, and interference from the top threatening the integrity of the investigation, lead detective Casey Wray is thrust into an increasingly puzzling case that looks like it’s going to have only one ending…

And then the first body appears…


Having read Blood Red City by the same author back in 2020, I was excited to learn that Orenda Books was publishing another novel by this writer. Blood Red City City showed he had exceptional talent, a way of telling a story that boded well for anything that came next. So I picked up Black Reed Bay filled with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, would it be as good?

Well I’m delighted to report, that it is an absolute corker of a read!

Rod Reynolds is an author who creates tension within Black Reed Bay that builds up from the small moments, into a tsunami of events leaving the reader feeling plummeted and exhausted and boy it feels good. It is a joy to sit down and read a book that leaves you feeling like you have been immersed in events that both terrify you and fascinate at the same time. I was left feeling shocked, entertained and desperate for more. Luckily for me, this is the first in a series, bring it on!

So why did I enjoy it so much?

Rod Reynolds writes like a seasoned pro. He immerses you completely in his tale of murder, treachery and mystery. From the moment you read the first page, to the last, you are gifted a tale of immense quality. He sets the scene like a master, you as if you are there, the sky feels epic, big and foreboding, the community from which the girl goes missing feels claustrophobic, as if behind any of it’s doors a potential murderer lurks. You want him to unlock the doors to each house, but at the same time, you really don’t, the tension so palatable, you feel you can taste it. The world seems to recede as Detective Wray walks the streets of a community that sees no evil, hears no evil, speaks no evil if it threatens their comfortable world, until she forces the truth out into the open. It is unbearable at times, how the writer plays with their motives, your emotions, all the time leaving you teetering on the edge, of what feels like a cliff edge. Did the girl die that night, do the inhabitants know her fate or is she still out there somewhere, terrified, running for her life still?

In Detective Wray he has a fascinating new character who is career minded, intelligent, conflicted, she is in fact a perfectly formed detective. So many writers portray women in such roles, as either closed down and cold, or overly emotional and flighty. Wray is far more balanced, she knows when things feel wrong, she bases her actions on her own gut reactions, just like her male colleagues would. I found myself willing her to not always need to seek advise before she acts, but to just do and Rod Reynolds never let me down. Better still he doesn’t surround her with male colleagues determined to undermine her just because she is a women, because although this happens, often intelligent men and women can work together without ulterior motives and it felt refreshing. This novel is about the evil presence that haunts the community of Hampstead County and her role within it is to solve the mystery around the missing women and she does so, because she has natural empathy and a keen resourceful mind. He creates a story around his characters, makes them integral to the natural flow of the narrative, but never allows each individual personality to overpower the story itself. Here we have a cleverly crafted story, with evil at it’s centre and a exciting new character, who is up to the challenge of bringing it to justice.

I wanted a keen intelligent thriller and that is what Black Reed Bay is!

You can buy this novel directly from the publisher Orenda Books, Waterstones, Amazon and all good independent bookshops.

Many thanks to the publisher and author for the ARC in return for an honest review.

About the author

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books published his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red CityBlack Reed Bay will be published in 2021. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters. Twitter: @Rod_WR email:

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