8 February 2020
OMG...WOW! WOW! WOW! This isn't just one of the best books in the series...it is THE BEST book in this series! THE BLOSSOM TWINS is the fifth installment in the DI Natalie Ward series and I think it is the best one so far! What can I say that I haven't already done so? This is one of my favourite series and it just gets better and better! As soon as I see one pop up on NetGalley, I don't hesitate in requesting. But this one...is something else!! So where do I start to even begin to give this book justice?
The story opens with 17 year old Kerry accompanying her 14 year old sister Isabella to a free concert in the grounds of a stately home. The boy band, Blasted, is a favourite of many a teenage girl and is the featured act. So when there is a break between performances, Kerry goes to the drinks tent for some refreshments for her and her sister...with Isabella remaining by the arch to keep their place.
But when Kerry returns, there is no sign of Isabella. A search of the area reveals her sister is nowhere to be found and now frantic with worry, Kerry abandons the concert in search of her sister. She finds her phone abandoned in the grass. Something is wrong. Isabella, like any teenage girl, is surgically attached to her phone and would not misplace it so carelessly. So where is Isabella?
The next day, DI Natalie Ward receives the call that the body of a teenage girl has been found in the kitchen garden in the grounds of the estate where the Blasted concert had taken place the night before. DS Lucy Carmichael accompanies Natalie to the scene in the absence of DS Murray Anderson, who is on a well deserved holiday in Australia. When they arrive, Natalie is immediately reminded of a previous case she'd investigated several years before in Manchester - the case of the Blossom Twins. The positioning of the body and the rose petals scattered on and around her are all strikingly similar. But there is one difference...there is only one body, not two.
Still, Natalie feels sure the cases are linked. But how? The killer of the Blossom Twins was caught, arrested and sent to prison where he later killed himself. A sign of guilt? Maybe...except that the killer retracted his earlier confession stating he was innocent. Natalie didn't think anything at the time, but now...she's not so sure.
When 13 year old twins Ivy and Erin Westmore camp out in their backyard one night, it is an adventurous act on their parts considering the girls have never shown any interest in camping before. Still, they bid their parents goodnight and settle in giggling and sharing secrets into the night. The following morning, thinking the girls were having a lie-in, their mother unzipped the tent to wake them. But she found only their bedclothes stuffed into their sleeping bags...with no sign of the twins.
A missing persons investigation is underway lead by the same detective who searched for Natalie's daughter, Leigh, when she went missing earlier in the year during an investigation into missing teenagers who disappeared after accepting a dare online. When Natalie heard about the missing twins, she immediately thought of her own investigation and that of the Blossom Twins. There HAD to be a link.
And then Erin and Ivy's bodies were found in marshland...on their sides facing each other, holding hands and covered in petals. Natalie knew then without a shadow of a doubt the cases were linked. If this wasn't a copycat of the original killer then they had put an innocent man away for the Blossom Twins. And he is back with a vengeance.
In light of her previous boss' retirement she now has a new one, Supt Dan Tasker, who is rather unpleasant and is all about statistics rather than helping the community. He brings in DS John Briggs to assist in Natalie's investigation, as she is a DS down. However, it turns out that Briggs is good friends with the Superintendent and she wonders if her authority is constantly being undermined by the two men. It's clear that Tasker has a favourite and it isn't her. But Briggs is no stranger to Natalie. They had worked together on the original Blossom Twins investigation and no one else knows the case as well as he does. But Briggs is an arrogant player constantly questioning her or going against her. She has no room for someone like him on her team...but she has no say in the matter.
On a personal level, Natalie has her home life to deal with. Her husband David has consistently lied to her and she has had enough. After he had gambled away their savings, he continued to visit gambling sites, betting shops and even bought scratchies. Natalie doesn't have the strength to continue this daily battle especially as her work life is tough enough. Now sleeping in the attic, she has decided that her marriage to David has come to an end...but each time she intends breaking the news to their children, Josh and Leigh, something comes up preventing her from doing so. Is she having second thoughts? Should she leave David or can they make it work? Does she love him enough? And how can she remain connected to her children if they were to separate? And then there is Mike. Her friend, confidante, colleague and now potential love interest. However, both have agreed to put their feelings on hold until she has sorted out the mess that is her marriage. But will Mike wait for her?
Despite all the things thrown at her on a daily basis, Natalie is determined to get to the truth. Is the Blossom Twins killer back? Did they imprison the wrong man? If so, why did he stop for several years? And why is he targeting twins? But nothing will prepare Natalie for the truth when she uncovers it...
That ending...OMG! That ending!! While I began to piece together the puzzle when the truth came out I was still shocked, despite the sense it made as I pondered it at the time. But that wasn't the only shock to come. My goodness!! I was left speechless...breathless...completely stunned! So much so it has taken me nearly a week to write this review. And even then, can I do it proper justice?
Carol Wyer really took a brave step in this book and as I tweeted her my reaction upon finishing the book, she was thrilled that had it generated the response she had been after. All I can say is...WOW!
Natalie and the killer share the primary narration in THE BLOSSOM TWINS. Aside from the investigation and Natalie's personal life, we are also given a glimpse into earlier snippets of the killer's life and ultimately what became the signature of his kills. And then we are given even more in the form of first Isabella's and then Erin and Ivy's brief narratives as to what happened in the lead up to their deaths...given that they had just disappeared and no one knew how or why. It is both intriguing and clever. This was a brilliant touch by Wyer.
I really thoroughly enjoy this series and love all the characters. Each of them shine in their own way in THE BLOSSOM TWINS. But I especially love how it's not dog-eat-dog where everyone is trying to one-up the other. I find those procedurals less endearing. Whereas Natalie and her team all complement each other and work together well. That is what I like to see...not constant angst between the ranks.
There is, of course, plenty of angst on Natalie's home front so she doesn't need it at work too. Her children, Josh and Leigh, have their moments as teenagers but overall are good kids. David is problematic but every so often I see something of what Natalie must have seen in him in the beginning, but the fact that he has consistently lied again and again shows he cannot be trusted and if you can't trust your husband, what hope does your marriage have? I have gone from liking to hating to tolerating David over the course of the series. But I really do believe their marriage has run its course...and particularly now at a time when they will all need to band together and support each other, I don't think their marriage is strong enough to do so. I see it crumbling even more in the next book.
THE BLOSSOM TWINS is a jaw-dropping, heartwrenching, edge-of-your-seat thriller of a police procedural. Just when you think everything has fallen into place, we are sideswiped with a shocker twist! Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year!!
A complex, nail-biting, cleverly written thriller, THE BLOSSOM TWINS is intense and fast-paced from beginning to end. Although you "could" read this as a standalone, I do recommend starting at the beginning of the series to appreciate the characters and their roles and development throughout. Although I did came late to the party, starting at "Last Lullaby" (Book 2), I fully intend on going back and reading the first book when I have the chance. But THE BLOSSOM TWINS is by far the best of the series and I look forward to seeing where Book 6 takes us.
1 - The Birthday
2 - Last Lullaby
3 - The Dare
4 - The Sleepover
5 - The Blossom Twins
I would like to thank #CarolWyer, #NetGalley and #Bookouture for an ARC of #TheBlossomTwins in exchange for an honest review.