Delighted to join the blog tour for The Last Girl To Die by Helen Fields today! Huge thanks to Olivia at Midas PR for the invitation to join and for providing me with the extract you’ll be able to read shortly. First, here’s what this latest offering by Helen Fields.
Author : Helen Fields
Title : The Last Girl To Die
Pages : 385
Publisher : Avon Books UK
Publication date : September 1, 2022
Source : Netgalley
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
In search of a new life, sixteen-year-old Adriana Clark’s family moves to the ancient, ocean-battered Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland. Then she goes missing. Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, her desperate parents turn to private investigator Sadie Levesque.
Sadie is the best at what she does. But when she finds Adriana’s body in a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, she knows she’s dealing with something she’s never encountered before.
The deeper she digs into the island’s secrets, the closer danger creeps – and the more urgent her quest to find the killer grows. Because what if Adriana is not the last girl to die?
| EXTRACT |
Finding Adriana Clark’s body was a shock, but not a surprise. I had, after all, been searching for it. The girl had been lost to her family for eleven devastating days and nights. I mention the nights because, in my experience, they outweigh the daytime in awfulness so greatly that the daylight hours become irrelevant. Families waiting for a missing loved one to return can fill their days. They can make telephone calls, put up posters, give pleading interviews to the press, bake bread or go to church. Everyone, everywhere has some sort of altar – domestic, professional or religious – at which to bend the knee in times of crisis during the day. But when I first met Adriana’s family, I saw the horror of the endless nights they’d endured waiting for the phone to ring and the seconds to pass. Nighttime is not merely a lack of light; it is the darkness within each of us when we lose hope.
The facts of the initial case were not uncommon. A teenager had disappeared. Seventeen years old from a family living on the Isle of Mull, west of the Scottish mainland. An American family, which was one of only two aspects of the case that struck me as unusual. Had they been visiting Mull as tourists then that would have been one thing, but it seemed a bizarre place for a family from Southern California to have chosen to live. For one thing, save for a brief, blissful summer, there were many fewer hours of sunshine per annum, not to mention the lack of malls, coffee franchises and delivery options. Still, I thought, good for them. Personally, I was much happier in smaller communities rooted in nature and self-sufficiency than in oxygen-deprived cities, but then I’m a Canadian who hails from Banff. Much like Mull, Banff half tolerates, half welcomes the annual influx of tourists. I always managed to escape into the mountains in winter or to sit by a lake in summer when I needed peace. A call to investigate a case in Vancouver or Toronto was how I usually defined a long-distance trek. Scotland was a commute further than I’d anticipated.
So, to Adriana. One late September Saturday morning her parents awoke, assumed their daughter was sleeping in and became concerned only at lunchtime by her failure to appear. Her father put his head round her door and discovered an empty bed. No sign of her anywhere in the house. Her bike still in the garage. Wallet gone, but Adriana’s passport remained in her mother’s bedside table. No sign of her cell phone. Five days later I landed at Glasgow airport and made my way overland to the ferry.
| MY THOUGHTS |
When the Clarke family moves from California to Scotland, little do they know that their lives will change a a lot more than they bargained for. Barely established on the Isle of Mull, their teenage daughter goes missing. Local law enforcement doesn’t seem at all interested in looking for Adriana, and the locals have never been what you might call welcoming to this bunch of strangers invading their island.
Adriana’s parents hire a private investigator, Sadie Levesque. She travels all the way from Canada, doing what she does best, which is finding missing teenagers. But when she finds Adriana’s body, she quickly catches the eye of the local police herself. Solving the mystery surrounding Adriana’s death is a constant battle against the police and the locals. Nobody seems at all bothered about what happened to this young girl. But she might not have been the first, and she could quite possibly not be the last either.
I honestly can’t think of a better location the author could have chosen to set this story. The Isle of Mull is wonderfully atmospheric with a delightful sense of isolation, even though getting on and off the island doesn’t seem that much of a hardship. It has a little bit of everything, rugged terrain, mysterious caves, hills, forests, water obviously, and it almost felt like an advertisement for Mother Nature. Furthermore it’s also the perfect place for lore, the stuff of myths and legends, stories about sunken ships and princesses, witches and witchcraft. All of this creates the most fabulous haunting vibe and the island itself is even given its own voice, which is at once delightfully quirky and intensely eerie.
There’s plenty of what seems to be myths and legends in this story but it serves a different purpose than you might expect. There’s an underlying theme about the empowerment of women against an increasingly hostile and misogynistic world. Suddenly this crime novel feels very much of-our-time and it adds another extraordinary layer to the storyline. ‘The Last Girl To Die‘ is often disturbing and sometimes rather gruesome, but if you’ve been reading Helen Fields’ books in the past you wouldn’t expect anything less, and I personally felt it was toned down quite a lot from her “Perfect” series. (Which, incidentally, if you haven’t been reading that one, I’m shooting daggers at you from behind the screen and fully expect you to correct the error of your ways asap.)
It all feels extremely ominous with danger lurking around every corner. There’s no way to know for sure who to trust on this island. I always felt there were little clues Fields was dropping, little breadcrumbs that I somehow put together into something completely different from where the story actually ended up. True to form, there are plenty of twists and turns and while I don’t normally like to mention something like this because it veers into that “twist you won’t see coming” category many of us dislike so much, I would like to point out that one twist left me quite unattractively open-mouthed. Shocking seems like a true understatement and it’s not something I will forget in a hurry.
Helen Fields has never let me down and I was confident from just reading the book description that I would enjoy this book. I had a wee wobble at the start, although I’m not entirely sure why, apart from this horrid mood I’ve been in the last few months. But once the tension was dialled up a notch, I didn’t look back. ‘The Last Girl To Die‘ is twisted, dark, gripping, brilliantly written and proves once again that Fields is rightfully on my list of go-to authors.
My thanks to the publisher for the advanced review copy, which I received via NetGalley. All opinions are my own. The Last Girl To Die will be published on September 1st.
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
An international and Amazon #1 best-selling author, Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister. Helen also writes as HS Chandler.
20 Books of Summer : 20/20