BLOG TOUR: The Key In The Lock by Beth Underdown

Title: The Key In The Lock by Beth Underdown
Pages: 288
Published by: Viking
Publication date: 13th January 2022
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Paperback
Amazon UK – Waterstones


‘I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire…’

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

My review:

The Key In The Lock is a compelling historical thriller with plenty of twists and lots of dark secrets. 
The story is set in two time periods: 1888 and 1918 and follows Ivy Boscawen. She mourns the death of her son Tim who was killed in the Great War, but she’s also haunted by the death of William Tremain who died in a fire in 1888. She was involved in the inquest at the time and believes Tim’s death is her punishment for not doing enough to get justice for William. Ivy is certain that there’s more to what happened all those years ago and she must uncover the truth of the terrible events that came after the fire if she’s ever to be free of her ghosts. 

I really liked Ivy, both as a young woman and the person she becomes. Despite feeling guilty for what happened to William, she’s a strong lead character in both time periods and I really admired the way she acted in 1888. What first appears to be a tragic accident is then revealed to be a shocking murder – but who would want to kill a little boy? Which begs the question, was William the intended victim or was it someone else? Ivy has to live in the house with the masters and the servants and work out who among them she can trust. I was absolutely captivated by the mystery that was slowly unfolding and was closely scrutinising each character. It was impossible to know who to trust, and, like Ivy, I found myself trusting the wrong people. The house itself was very gothic and it gave me the creeps at times. While the inquest is ongoing, strange things occur in the house and it seems that everyone is keeping secrets. It was hard to know who was telling the truth and I fell for a lot of red herrings. 

In the present day timeline, we learn a lot about Ivy’s life and what’s happened to her since the inquest all those years ago and I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her. Her life is nothing like what she’d imagined and it appears that she’s still being deceived even now. Ivy is wrapped up in grief over the death of her son and the fact that it might not have been honourable. I thought this part of the story was well-written and handled delicately. I do enjoy stories set in the Great War, however, for this particular story, I did prefer the 1888 timeline because I thought it was more interesting with the inquest and all the secrets that were being kept. Beth Underdown weaves together such a captivating mystery and there’s so many shocking secrets that are uncovered. 

The Key In The Lock is an atmospheric thriller that will keep you guessing at every turn. I was really impressed by how Underdown links these two time periods together and how she manages to drop shocking reveals along the way. I was completely wrapped up in this story and the characters’ lives. I highly recommend this for anyone who loves gothic reads and historical thrillers!

A huge thank you to Vintage for sending me a copy of this book for review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour! Make sure to check out everyone else taking part in this tour.

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