June 12th, 2021
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The Smuggler's Daughter

The Smuggler's Daughter, April 2021
by Kerry Barrett

HQ Digital
384 pages
ISBN: 0008430160
EAN: 9780008430160
Kindle: B08C9FKJFG
Paperback / e-Book
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"Great Dual Timeline Novel"

Fresh Fiction Review

The Smuggler's Daughter
Kerry Barrett

Reviewed by Carol Pennington
Posted April 15, 2021

Mystery Private Eye | Fiction

THE SMUGGLER'S DAUGHTER by Kerry Barrett is a dual timeline novel that follows two women who find themselves involved in a smuggling ring in Cornwall, England; one in the early 1800s and one present day.

Emily’s parents own The Ship Inn, a pub that sits on the cliffs of the sea on the outskirts of Kirrinporth. Emily is different from everyone around her. She has trouble reading body language and she struggles to express herself verbally, so she instead expresses herself through her drawings. When Emily witnesses her father’s murder, she tries to inform her mother of his death, but can’t get the words to come. As a result, she enlists the help of her only friend, Arthur, to help uncover the mystery behind her father's murder. When they discover his death was a result of her dad refusing to assist a smuggler, they join forces to obtain justice. 

Phoebe is a police officer from London on a leave of absence following a bad outcome of a case in which she was involved. Her best friend, Olivia, invites Phoebe to accompany her to Cornwall for the summer in an effort to bring Phoebe out of the funk she has found herself in. Olivia has been hired to transition a pub called The Moon Girl, the same pub that had been previously called The Ship Inn. When Phoebe hers the history surrounding the pub, she involves herself in solving the centuries-old case. However, she soon discovers that the smuggling history of the pub may not be just a thing of the past. 

I love the connections the author painted between the past and present in THE SMUGGLER'S DAUGHTER. The similarities between the two main characters and the crimes were a definite asset to the story. I am typically not a fan of dual timeline novels as I sometimes find them hard to follow. That was not the case with this book. In fact, the dual timeline approach worked very well. Kerry Barrett made the transitions very smooth. 

The descriptions painted by the author’s words of the setting were very well done. I could almost imagine myself sitting at the pub looking out onto the water. While there is some vulgar language throughout this book, I recommend this book to readers looking for a good mystery. 


Learn more about The Smuggler's Daughter


‘I loved this book! I was hooked from the start… I devoured this.’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

Only she knows the truth. Only she can save them.

Emily Moon lives with her mother in an inn on a clifftop in the darkest reaches of Cornwall. After her father mysteriously disappears, her mother finds solace at the bottom of a bottle, and the only way to keep afloat is to turn a blind eye to the smugglers who send signals from the clifftops. But Emily knows that the smugglers killed her father to ensure his silence, and she will not let his murder go unpunished…

Present day
After a case ends in tragedy, police officer Phoebe Bellingham flees to Cornwall for a summer of respite. But rather than the sunny Cornwall of her dreams, she finds herself on storm-beaten cliffs, surrounded by stories of ghosts and smugglers – and the mysterious Emily Moon, who vanished without a trace over two centuries ago. As rain lashes down around her, Phoebe determines to find the truth behind the rumours – but what she uncovers will put herself in danger too…

A haunting and moving timeslip novel perfect for fans of The Girl in the Letter, The Forgotten Village and The Witchfinder’s Sister.

Readers LOVE The Smuggler’s Daughter!

Gripping and unputdownable… A brilliantly told story and one I keep thinking about since I finished reading it.’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

Creepy, atmospheric and gripping, a really great read.’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

Ticked all of the boxes for me… One of those books that draws you in straight away… I found it difficult to put down.’ NetGalley reviewer

‘Atmospheric and gothic… Gives you the odd shiver up your spine… A really enjoyable read.’ NetGalley reviewer

‘An intriguing story full of adventure, imaginative characters, history, and beautiful Cornwall scenes.’ NetGalley reviewer

‘I could literally hear and smell the waves crashing on the rocks… Kept me gripped throughout… Twists along the way.’ Yeah Lifestyle


‘You’ll want to lock up when we’re gone,’ Kayla said. She looked serious, but the man – Ewan – laughed.

‘Welcome to The Moon Girl,’ he said.

He pushed open the door and a gust of wind blew in, making Liv and me shiver. Kayla and the other two men followed him out into the night and the door banged shut again.

‘What on earth was that?’ I said. Liv looked at me, her eyes wide, and then she burst out laughing. I did the same.

‘I don’t work here,’ I said, in a very bad approximation of Kayla’s west country drawl. ‘I just chuck the keys about.’

‘Welcome to The Moon Girl,’ Liv said, deepening her voice so much that she sounded like a Cornish Batman. She bent down and scooped up the keys.

‘Are you going to lock the door?’ I asked, feeling weirdly nervous. This was a strange place, with the rain beating against the windows and no customers even though it was only seven o’clock in the evening. If the weather was better, it would still be light. That picture I’d had in my mind of the beachside bar with brightly coloured umbrellas on the terrace and bleached wooden floors was fading fast.

Liv didn’t answer; she just walked to the door, checked it was properly closed, and then locked it.

‘No one else will come this evening,’ she said. ‘The rain’s obvi- ously making everyone stay away.’

‘Shall we have a look round?’ I tried to sound enthusiastic but it wasn’t easy.

Liv gave me a bright, very fake, smile. ‘Let’s go.’ We both picked up our bags.

‘Not much to see here,’ Liv said. She was right. The pub was small. I imagined that in winter, with a fire in the empty fireplace and fairy lights round the bar, it could be cosy, but now it just seemed a bit bleak. It had dark wooden floorboards with flaking varnish, and equally dark tables with red velour stools and chairs. It smelled faintly of old smoke – even though no one had smoked inside a pub for more than a decade – and stale beer. The building was fairly wide and as you came through the door, the bar was in front of you and slightly to the left. A door at the back to that side had a gold sticker, half peeling off, reading “ladies” and another underneath showing it as a fire exit. To the right of the bar, there were more tables and chairs, a large television, a dartboard, and a door with no sign. Instead, someone had scrawled “men” on the wood in black marker pen.

The one saving grace of the whole place was the view from the dirty windows at the back. It was stunning. We could see for miles across the bay, from where the pub perched on top of the cliff. Way out to sea we could see bobbing lights – presumably from fishing boats or buoys – and off to the left was a lighthouse. It wasn’t lit yet, though with the gloom drawing in, I thought it wouldn’t be long.

‘Ohhh, Liv,’ I said. ‘This is beautiful.’

‘It feels like we’re on a ship.’ She knelt on one of the stools next to the window and gazed out. ‘There’s virtually nothing between us and the water.’

I joined her on the stool and she shoved me off. ‘Get your own,’ she said.

‘Selfish.’ I tutted as I pulled another chair closer and knelt on that instead. ‘Is there a beach?’

Liv tried to see but she banged her head on the glass. ‘Ouch. Can’t tell.’

‘We can look tomorrow when it’s lighter,’ I said. ‘I bet there’s a little path down the cliff. I might go for a swim every morning. It’s an amazing location.’

Bored with the view, Liv slid off the stool and picked up the three empty pint glasses the men had left on the table – once a barmaid, always a barmaid, I thought. She put them on the bar and wandered round to the fire exit door. ‘Come on, let’s look upstairs,’ she said.

I followed her, reluctant to drag myself away from watching the swell of the sea but not wanting to be left alone. Through the door was a corridor, leading to the ladies’ loo, a fire exit straight ahead, and a flight of stairs with balding carpet.

Liv set off, taking two stairs at a time.

‘So, all I know is there was some sort of family emergency or something,’ she called over her shoulder. ‘And the people who had been managing this place had to leave in a hurry.’

‘Are they coming back?’

‘Not as far as I know,’ she said. ‘The company’s recruiting for someone to take over permanently. Shit.’

She’d gone into the first room at the top and stopped dead, and I bumped into her as I followed.



Liv stood to one side to let me see. We were in the living room of the flat. It was a nice room with a big squishy sofa and the same amazing view out across the sea. What had stopped Liv short, though, were the pictures on the walls, the television in the corner, and a book face down on the coffee table.

‘What. The. Fuck?’ I gazed round. There was a sideboard at one end of the room, with school photos on it. A small boy with sticking-up hair grinned out at us.‘They really did leave in a hurry.’ ‘This is creepy as,’ Liv said. I nodded, taking in all the personal belongings that had been left behind.

Liv looked upset. She picked up the book, folded down the corner of the page and put it back down again, closed. ‘What on earth could have happened to make a whole family leave their home so fast?’

‘No idea. Must have been a pretty bad emergency.’

‘I can’t believe they’ve left all this stuff here.’ Liv stood in the middle of the room glancing from side to side, taking it all in. ‘I suppose we can box it up and send it on. I’ll call head office tomorrow and get a forwarding address.’

Feeling just as unsettled as Liv clearly was, I wandered into the bedrooms. The master bedroom was much the same, though the wardrobes were open and empty. The bed had linen on it and the television on the wall was on standby. A clean patch in the dust on one bedside table, though, told me the family had taken some belongings. Maybe a precious photograph or a jewellery box?

Silently, Liv and I checked out the rest of the living quarters. There were two more bedrooms. One, which had obviously been the boy’s room, had toys on the floor and pictures of footballers on the walls. Again, though, the wardrobe was empty.

I shivered. This was so strange. It was like the Marie Celeste or an episode of Doctor Who. I half expected David Tennant to leap out at us and make everything normal again. Or was that just wishful thinking?

The third bedroom was clearly a guest room. The linen on its twin beds was fresh and pristine, it had an en-suite bathroom, and there were no creepy abandoned personal belongings.

‘Dibs this room,’ Liv and I said in unison. We both looked at each other and then Liv laughed. ‘Share?’

I nodded in relief. ‘Share.’

We each dropped our bags on to a bed. I chose the one by the window so I could look out across the sea. Then Liv threw her arm round my shoulder. ‘Welcome to The Moon Girl,’ she said, using her Batman voice again. ‘Fancy a drink?’

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