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The Sick Rose


Paul has been led into a life of crime by his schoolyard protector, Daniel – but one night what started as petty theft escalates fatally. Now, at nineteen, Paul must bear witness against his friend to avoid imprisonment.

Louisa has her own dark secrets. Having fled from them many years ago she now spends her days steeped in history, renovating the grounds of a crumbling Elizabethan mansion. But the fragile peace is shattered when she meets Paul; he’s the image of the one person she never thought she’d see again.

A relationship develops between them, and Louisa starts to believe she can experience the happiness she had given up on; but it soon becomes apparent that neither of them can outrun their violent past.

‘Like Ruth Rendell, Kelly is an expert in suburban macabre, relishing in the domestic scenes we all recognise but giving them a satisfyingly chilly edge'


‘It’s an elaborate narrative structure, but Kelly manages it with panache. This is an enormously readable novel and there’s no denying Kelly’s talent’


‘This flits between the ‘then’ and the ‘now’, playing with the magic and poison of memories, until the present intervenes with brutal and tragic consequences.’

The Times

‘It’s unusual for a second novel to be even better than the first but Kelly has pulled off that difficult trick’ 

Literary Review

‘Kelly writes perceptively and chillingly about the long shadows cast by tragic mistakes’

Daily Telegraph

‘A real ‘can’t put it down’ mystery. This sick rose has got the grip of bindweed’

The Independent

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