“The Flower Girls” by Alice Clark-Platts

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Thanks to Bloomsbury UK and NetGalley for the advance reading copy

About halfway through reading this book I thought I had it all figured out. How very wrong I was.  

This is a very dark, chilling novel that is sure to leave you feeling unsettled at its conclusion. The story is about the “Flower Girls” Laurel and Rosie, who were involved in the murder of a young girl whilst small children. The novel follows a series of characters including the Flower Girls who are now adults, a policewoman, a writer, a lawyer and a victim’s rights advocate. There are a lot of surprises unveiled during the course of the novel and some things are not quite as they seem. 

The story makes reference to, and has parallels with, notorious murder cases of modern times, including Jamie Bulger and the Moors Murderers. With that in mind, it can make for rather gruelling and intense reading at times. Some of the themes explored raise questions about the efficacy of indefinite detention of young offenders, what can drive children to commit terrible crimes, is evil a result of nature or nurture and what rights should the victims of crime have to determine or prolong the punishment of offenders. 

Some of the dialogue and actions of the characters sometimes didn’t quite read true to life for me, particular the writer’s story arc, which disrupted my immersion in the narrative at certain points. However, the author takes some risks with expected tropes of the genre which helped elevate it above a standard thriller. The book left me feeling genuinely unnerved and made me reflect personally on some of the knee-jerk reactions I have to similar crimes that happen in reality. This book could be useful basis for discussion with those working in the fields of rehabilitation or the criminal justice system and some of the themes could be used when exploring these issues in a classroom situation.

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