The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

The past reveals the most horrific crime. Kirstie; a toddler, has been murdered, what’s more shocking is who did it. The Flower Girls are all over the headlines; Laurel (ten) and Rosie (six) have been taken in for questioning. Laurel is arrested and convicted, but was Rosie truly innocent?

We, then join the story in present times, where Rosie is now an adult on holiday with her partner and his daughter. After Laurel was found guilty, Rosie had a new identity provided, she is now Hazel. She has a great job, a great partner and is happy with her ‘normal life’. But secrets always have a way of coming out, don’t they?

Young Georgie Greenstreet has gone missing at the hotel, her last spotting was in the kitchen playing with the cute abandoned kittens… and then nothing. No one seems to know where she’s gone.

The police arrive and Hazel is terrified that her identity is going to come out and the life she has built will be shattered to pieces by the press. She needs to leave. Max is staying in the hotel to write his book, his wife is not amused that he’s skipping New Years with the family, but Max is all too aware of their finances. With the words not coming to him, Georgie’s disappearance piques his interest, as he scans his fellow guests, he notices the fear in Hazel’s eyes and a familiarity in her face that he just can’t pin point. And then it comes to him and the answer to all his prayers presents itself.

Like a shark circling its prey, Max corners Hazel, reveals he knows who she is and that he can help her. In her terrified state, Hazel agrees to go along with Max’s plan. Max is now dreaming of the money and fame.

Meanwhile, DC Lorna Hillier is not far behind in discovering the truth of who Hazel is, but whilst she can sense Hazel is hiding something, her gut tells her that Hazel didn’t take Georgie.

So who did it? With suspicious parents, guests and staff; who all seem adamant on hiding the truth from the police, Hillier has her work cut out.

Meanwhile Laurel’s sentence is up for appeal, hasn’t she served enough time? Joanna, Kirstie’s aunt, believes she hasn’t. Joanna keeps up her campaign to keep Laurel behind bars, her passion is fiery but is it now just an obsession, has she lost sight of what’s really important?

Clark-Platts also slowly reveals the secrets of the past throughout the story, building up the momentum and planting even more seeds. With Laurel revealing what it’s like behind bars, the story of that fatal day seems even more pertinent. Her aggressive and gruff behaviour makes her hard to like, but in her vulnerable moments, her despondent attitude suggests she, too, is trapped in the past.

With massive twists in the final pages, ironically I wouldn’t tag this book as ‘twists galore’, instead I was really drawn to the way these characters were depicted. Clark-Platts has an uncanny ability to bring out the very worst and most complex emotions out of her characters. All of the main characters: Joanna, Hazel/Rosie, Laurel, Hillier, Max; each have their own build up of obsessive behaviour and exhibit (or are shown) the negative impact of their actions. Each drew different emotions out of me and I enjoyed the array of feelings I felt whilst I devoured this book.

With the multi-narrative chapters, the pages fly by as you connect the dots between an individual story and the wider-picture plot.

Whilst the concept of this book uses the most hard-to-stomach crimes; those involving young kids, the book isn’t gruesome or gory and heavily focuses on the psychology of the characters. Given the similarity of the cases to real life ones, I’m glad Clark-Platts depicted the story the way she did!

Looking back now, I realise how much was going on in this story, at the time I hardly noticed, which shows how cleverly constructed this complex plot was.

The Flower Girls is out now in hardback and eBook versions from Raven Books, with the paperback version due out in early September!

Until next time, Chloé x

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