I won’t fib, I was totally up for another D.I. Erica Martin story when I heard that Alice Clark-Platts had written another novel. But conversely, being the contradictory little wotsit that I am, I also enjoy seeing a writer diversify. Yet Ms. Clark-Platts hasn’t strayed too far from her comfort zone with this mystery story that has a police and courtroom presence in it. The ‘cop’ this time is Lorna Hillier, astute, instinctive, tenacious and philosophical,
‘Hillier is certain that criminal impulses lurk unbidden in everyone. But it is only the people who act on those impulses that guilt can claim as its victims. The rest of us feel it but shake it off, thankful to God, or whatever it is that guides our moral compass, that we are able to control it.’
That not everyone can shake it off, certainly within the fertile imaginations of the crime novelist, is paradoxically a blessing for we wouldn’t have the stories we do if everyone behaved themselves!
The miscreants here seem to be sisters, Laurel and Rosie. When the novel begins one is behind bars, one isn’t. The greatest disservice I can do is offer any spoilers here because the novel pivots on the reader discovering, layer by layer, what happened then, and what is happening now. It did remind me of a case in the news over twenty five years ago but the author did reference that. It’s tight, taut and twisty. Dark, and possibly a little depressing, but it was never gonna be uplit now was it?! The characters are edgy, uneasy, you never quite get to trust any of them and then you start mistrusting yourself, your own instincts, for what really did happen with The Flower Girls?
I often wonder, when you discover an author whose work you continue to enjoy, whether you subconsciously intuit their thought patterns and can see where the novel is headed? Certainly you have an affinity with their narrative style and characterisations but plots are nebulous things and vary greatly. I did surmise some of what was going on but I did not anticipate the final ‘Conclusion Blast’! It was a goody! And the poor reader is left open mouthed, possibly rereading because you can’t quite believe it and then as you process the implications you feel a cold chill travel down the length of your spine. Then you close the book.
And in my case you return it to the library where someone else is desperately waiting to read it.