TASTER REVIEW: Broadchurch - The Official Novel By Erin Kelly And Chris Chibnall

If you’re heading off on your summer holiday in August and looking for the perfect read for those lazy days on the beach you could do far worse than pick yourself up a copy of Broadchurch: The Official Novel. Based on the original story by Chris Chibnall and written by Erin Kelly, author of The Poison Tree and other psychological thrillers, the book will be released in paperback, MP3 audiobook and Kindle editions on 14th August in the UK. We've been lucky enough to have a look at the opening pages - here's what we thought:

On the cliff top, Danny closes his eyes.
One road in, one road out. Tonight, no engine fills the silence and the black tar of the coast road is unbroken by headlights. Nobody comes into Broadchurch and nobody leaves…

We’re dropped into the close knit community of Broadchurch moments before the catastrophic event takes place that launches the narrative. In a few paragraphs Erin Kelly manages to establish the ordinariness of the town, the sense that this could be somewhere any of us might live, with a church and a local paper and BHS furnishings – and yet we know that something major is about to take place.

Part of what made Broadchurch the TV phenomenon that it became was that nobody knew what to expect as they watched. Writing in the present tense Erin captures the same gradual opening up of the story that series creator Chris Chibnall intended. This is no flashback to past events, we are in the here and now, seeing through the eyes of the protagonists themselves and as such are party to their reflections, experiences and reactions as events unfold before them. Thus we ride Beth’s rising anxiety, her “...quicksand terror...the way everything goes from happiness to hell in the gap between two heartbeats.” and Ellie’s crushing disappointment as promotion is snatched away from her. Hardy’s slide towards panic on his first sight of Danny’s corpse already hints at a deeper insight into this blunt, frustrating and literally broken-hearted man. And as the narrative progresses and more characters are introduced, there’s no doubt that Kelly will succeed in building up a rich tapestry of wholly realised individuals faced with a horrible crime in the midst of their community.

With such a beloved series put into the hands of a writer to adapt to novel form, it could be well-nigh impossible to read it without making comparisons to the screen version, and changes, omissions and additions have the potential to feel jarring and uncomfortable. However, Kelly manages to make the text seem both familiar and fresh at the same time: it is only after several beats that you notice that our first glimpse of the town in the daytime is seen through Ellie’s eyes rather than Mark’s, for instance. And if anyone was questioning the logic of investing in a novel that they already know the ending to then think again. Within a chapter the reader is engaged and wanting to revisit these characters and events once again, less concerned now with the whodunit and instead ready to explore the why. Broadchurch: The Novel stands up quite confidently as an augmentation of the source material rather than a pale imitation.

The Broadchurch novel can be pre-ordered now:

UK: Released in paperback and Kindle on August 14th - Click here 
       Audio download read by Carolyn Pickles (Maggie Radcliffe) - Click here

USA: Hardback edition released 16th September - Click here

Germany: Broadchurch: Der Mörder unter uns translated by Irmengard Gabler
               Released 21st August - Click here 

Australia: Available from 12th August - Click here

About the authors

Chris Chibnall is the creator, writer and executive producer of the award winning ITV drama, Broadchurch. He has also written for TV shows including Life On MarsLaw & Order:UK, Doctor Who and its spin-off, Torchwood. Chris's latest BBC1 drama, The Great Train Robbery, tells the story of the infamous 1963 British heist. He lives in Dorset with his family.

Erin Kelly is the author of the critically acclaimed psychological thrillers, The Poison Tree, The Sick RoseThe Burning Air and The Ties That BindThe Poison Tree was a bestselling Richard & Judy Book Club selection in 2010 and was adapted for the screen as a major ITV drama in 2012. Erin also works as a freelance journalist, writing for newspapers including The Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Mail as well as magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire and Elle. She lives in London with her family.