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The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

A twisty psychological thriller than will keep you on your toes until the last page. 

In 1997, ten-year-old Laurel and six-year-old Rosie are playing a game that somehow results in the death of a baby. The country is shocked, and Laurel is old enough to be criminally responsible. She ends up juvenile detention and later prison, while her sister and parents are given new names and relocated. 

Fast forward to the present day, and Rosie is now Hazel. She had a boyfriend with a teenage daughter, and they are spending New Year’s Eve in remote Devon hotel. A little girl has disappeared from the hotel, and her parents and the police are frantically searching for her. Meanwhile, Laurel is pursuing a judicial review that might finally allow her to be released from prison. 

When a writer staying at the hotel realises that Hazel is actually one of the infamous Flower Girls, as Laurel and Rosie were known, he starts a chain of events that will change lives. 

This is one of those twisty tales where you’re never entirely sure where you’re going. The narrative jumps around from Hazel to the suspicious Detective Hillier, and to including Laurel’s defence lawyer and the aunt of the original victim who has made it her life’s work to ensure that Laurel is never released to society. 

There obviously lots of real-life parallels with child killers that The Flower Girls doesn’t avoid. But this is most certainly a different tale, and working out precisely what happened in both 1997 and the present day keeps you guessing all the way through.

Thanks to Netgalley and Raven Books for my ARC. The Flower Girls is published on 24 January in hardback, and is already out on Kindle.