Taking a cue from the James Bulger case, this book switches from the murder of 2 yo Kirstie in 1997 by sisters Laurel 10 and Rosie 6 to twenty years later. Rosie was too young to be charged and convicted but Laurel has been in prison the whole time and her requests for parole denied. Rosie and her parents were given new identities. They moved to a new town and never had contact with Laurel again. Only solicitor Toby, the brother of her father, has fought in her corner. Cut to twenty years on, and Rosie - now Hazel Archer - is spending New Years Eve at a Dorset hotel with her boyfriend Jonny and his 14 yo daughter. A little girl goes missing in the wild, freezing weather, an author discovers Hazel’s identity and wants to capitalise on it and policewoman Hillier discovers the frozen child just in time.
This book is 5 star brilliant when it comes to describing the effects of the 1997 murder on all concerned. Particularly compelling, from a psychological and moral point of view, is the campaigning zeal of law graduate Joanna, Kirstie’s aunt. She’s fought hard to keep Laurel inside and unwillingly realises that her anger and hatred are corrosive. Toby stoically accepts his abandonment by his family for sticking with Laurel.
Demure Hazel has no memory of fatal events in 1997 and does a good job of presenting herself as the innocent one when author Max suggests a name-clearing book. Despite police acceptance of the “lost child found” scenario, Hillier still suspects foul play. There is certainly a major twist at the end that we couldn’t have seen coming because there’s absolutely no preparation for it. Pragmatic Hillier presents her boss with her suspicions about who might have abducted the child but panicked and didn’t go through with a murder but she must have known what he’d say: “Where’s your evidence?” Our ideas about Laurel, Rosie and their mother eventually change but ideally, an author would sneak in little warning signs a whole lot earlier. This is probably carping because otherwise, there’s a lot to admire here: a wide range of convincing characters, depth of insight into the human condition, a pacy plot and skilful scene-setting. One thing that can’t be criticised is the complexity of the love-hate psychology between Laurel and Rosie, and we do get to address the issue of “why?” Are some people simply evil or is there always a reason? Still highly recommended despite the carping, because it is a very engaging story.
well crafted, lyrical and elegantly composed, but after a suspenseful build, the ending feels hurried and sorely lacking in psychological insight. I'd hoped for more depth. Jonny's role turns out to be entirely unconvincing, Amy is underexplored, as is Hazel's motive, and long gap between crimes.
It is impossible to escape your own past. That other self, the one you were before, will always be with you, wherever you go. Attempt to shake her off to your peril.
The public’s obsession with ‘The Flower Girls’ never completely went away and with the increasing popularity of social media, every keyboard warrior and her cat now have the platform upon which to voice their strident opinions. Hurtful, uniformed or just plain annoyed, the unseen haters have over the past nineteen years added to the colossal damage served on two families wracked with grief over the loss of happy lives that should have been theirs. Hazel knows this better than most, having spent the entirety of her years since the murder distancing herself from the actions of her older sister Laurel.
Hazel was once Primrose, the younger of the two flower girls. Primrose at twenty-five now has a lovely fiancé who adores her and is nervous at the prospect of becoming a step mother to his teenager. When a child goes missing from the same hotel where Hazel is having her birthday stay, Hazel’s identity is public knowledge once again. It was only Laurel who was convicted for torturing and murdering a toddler whose only crime was to want to play with two older children - ten year old Laurel and 6 year old Primrose.
THE FLOWER GIRLS has a curious cast of characters that are oddly disconnected from each other, despite all being immersed in a net of pain and regret that none seem likely to escape from. This work has all the right ingredients for a thriller novel in that we are presented with circumstances that we must examine, and question, throughout the read. What we need to accept as undeniable is that a murderer can kill at any age. We ask are the signs of that malignancy of character present in the killer right from childhood? Do they fade, or do they develop over time?
Early in THE FLOWER GIRLS the reader is conscious of a ticking clock with Hazel, in that she is not going to be allowed her happiness when very few people believe she is innocent of the most heinous of crimes. The aunt of the murdered child has made it her life’s work to keep Laurel in prison and the case in the public eye. Hazel on the other hand has made it her life’s intention to distance herself from the killing.
We readers are gently led to have our doubts about everyone in THE FLOWER GIRLS and are not able to rest our dark suspicions on the head of one character for too long before we begin to suspect the intentions of the next. Author Alice Clark Platts writes with an elegant hand, introducing through secondary characters such quandaries of the age of criminal responsibility, the sentencing of minors, the culpability of family members when a killing has been committed by a child. None of this is designed to make the reader comfortable in what they are examining, but it does provoke further thought. THE FLOWER GIRLS conclusion you will feel was there from the opening pages, but in between you’ve had a lot to consider as you’ve journeyed through.
Haunting and unsettling, THE FLOWER GIRLS treads gently down dark paths, leading the reader towards its uneasy and daunting truth.
I loved this book, so different from other books that I have been reading recently. I read this over 10 days with Pigeonhole Books and at times I just wanted to keep reading to know what was going to happen next.
The story of 2 sisters Laurel and Rosie. Laurel is convicted of the murder of 2 year old Kristie and sent to jail. Rosie is too young and is given a new identity and a new life. 19 years later her real identity is revealed .