Title: The Flower Girls
Author: Alice Clark-Platts
Publisher: Bloomsbury Raven
Publication Date: 17 January 2019 (eBook) & 24 January 2019 (hardback)
THREE CHILDREN WENT OUT TO PLAY. ONLY TWO CAME BACK.
The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.
One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.
Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.
And the Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again…
Happy hardback release day to The Flower Girls!
The third novel from author Alice Clark-Platts promises on the front cover that you will never forget the Flower Girls and that certainly is the truth!
The book has a dual time line and two interconnected plots. In the earlier timeline, we meet Laurel and Rosie who are collectively known as ‘The Flower Girls’. Accused of murdering of a toddler when they were children themselves, Laurel refuses to discuss the crime and has been in prison ever since, whereas Rosie was too young to stand trial and denies any memory of the events. As a reader, you can’t help but wonder what really happened to Kirstie Greenstreet…?
In the later timeline, it is 18 years down the line. Laurel is up for parole again and Rosie has a new life. She is is now called Hazel and is living a normal life, which includes a partner and a soon-to-be stepdaughter. Life is finally looking up for her until a visit to a Devon hotel on New Year’s Eve ends in disaster. Hazel/Rosie knows that it is only a matter of time before she finds herself thrown back into the public eye and accused of a crime she didn’t commit. Should she accept writer Max’s offer to help her manage the publicity circus that is threatening to arise?
The book is very well-plotted and well-paced, one of the main reasons why it worked so well as a serialisation (via The Pigeonhole). The book instills an almost immediate seed of suspense which continues to grow as the story develops and unfolds. There are some obvious parallels between this story and a similar true-life case and that authenticity makes for a fairly uncomfortable read in places. The earlier narrative forces the reader to consider the ethical and moral position surrounding the treatment of children who commit crimes at a very young age – how do we judge who is or isn’t old enough to be held accountable for their actions? It is a sensitive and challenging dilemma, and one where there really isn’t a right answer.
The characters are very well done and disturbingly real. Despite the subject matter, the author has carefully not attached too much good or bad to either of the two leading characters throughout the main portion of the tale, giving the reader the opportunity to make up their own mind about the two sisters. This built in a level of intrigue to the story, as I was keen to find out whether my instincts were correct.
As with any good thriller, there are a few twists and turns along the way. One twist I found slightly predictable, yet in a way this helped to disguise another reveal which I hadn’t seen coming – very clever! I can’t say more without revealing spoilers. The ending does possibly leave a few questions unanswered, yet so did the original Flower Girls case and so it would seem to be a somewhat fitting conclusion to the twisted tale.
On a final note, I really liked the author’s writing style. It has a slick and stylish feel to it which really helped the story to flow.
The Flower Girls is ultimately a very dark, disturbing yet gripping tale, which addresses some particularly emotive subjects – child abduction, torture and murder. Given it’s similarity to true-life events, the story will resonate with a lot of readers. I would highly recommend this book to lovers of crime fiction and psychological thrillers.
About the Author (by the author)
I am a former human rights lawyer who used to work for the UK Government. As a litigator, I worked on cases involving Winnie Mandela and the rapper Snoop Dogg. I loved my job but then we re-located to the tropics and now I live in wonderful Singapore.
I also write short stories which have been published in in various anthologies. And when I’m not writing, I’m running The Singapore Writers’ Group which I founded in 2012. This is a fantastic group of both professional and amateur writers who meet monthly and attend workshops and critique sessions