The Flower Girls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 24 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Two sisters share a secret that one has been sent to prison for. Twenty years has gone by and another child goes missing. Will the sister who murdered the little girl ever come clean?
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A mystery without a secret; a thriller without any suspense. Alice Clark-Platts' The Flower Girls was novel easily summed up by its synopsis; a few lines stretched into in excess of 300 pages. And, honestly, the only thing beguiling about it, was how I did not give up on it before the finish.
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O M G!!! This book was epic...I inhaled this book in one sitting, I simply couldn’t put it down. The characters are well developed and believable, until the very last page you don’t know what’s going on and who is really guilty. One of my favourite books of the year!
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An intriguing thriller which kept me gripped, it suddenly built up to a abrupt ending which i would have liked elaborating on!!’
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The Flower Girls is a mystery/crime thriller by Alice Clark-Platts, an author I was previously unaware of but am now desperate to read more from. It focuses on the incredibly brutal murder of 2-year-old Kirstie Swann, who was killed in 1997 at the hands of two young girls, Primrose and Laurel. The culprits are coined as ‘The Flower Girls’ by the media, and the novel flits back and forth between the past and the present. In 1997, Primrose and Laurel are hounded by the press, and ultimately Laurel is charged with the murder. Primrose and her parents are given new identities and new lives. 
Flash forward to present day, and Primrose is now Hazel, girlfriend of Jonny, and the couple are holidaying in Devon when another child goes missing. Hazel’s life begins to spiral, and a lot of difficult questions are raised- especially when her true identity is revealed. 
Sometimes with books that flit back and forth in time, one timeline flows more easily than the other- this is not the case with The Flower Girls. The pacing of the novel is perfect; Clark-Platts doesn’t drag us through pointless sub-plots, nor does she focus on one person or thing for too long. 
Despite her past as a human rights lawyer, Clark-Platts takes a non-sensationalist approach to her writing, and this really elevates the story. Her empathy for both the victim and the suspects really shines through, and even during the more difficult parts of the story, she writes eloquently and respectfully. She avoids getting into the gory details surrounding Kirstie’s death, and I applaud this; its all too easy to fall into the sensationalist trap, and Clark-Platts avoids that admirably. 
Ultimately, despite its disturbing plotline, The Flower Girls is an utterly gripping read. Clark-Platts eloquently and respectfully forces us to think about innocence and guilt, and whether a child can truly be held accountable for their actions, no matter how disturbing. Whilst I strongly recommend giving this book a go, its certainly not for more sensitive readers.
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Thank you - we featured The Flower Girls on Caboodle (website and newsletter) in 2018! We look forward to working with you in 2020.
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The synopsis of this book is short but purposefully intriguing - I wanted to know who the flower girls were the instant I read it.

At the start we are at a hotel on New Years Eve when a young girl goes missing, while the free “Flower Girl” happens to be staying at the hotel. 
This book is mostly set in modern day with occasional glimpses back to 1997-1998, when the murder that the Flower Gils are infamous for rook place.
We also get the book from several people’s points of view which for the most part I enjoyed, though I felt some characters’ point of view were surplus to the books needs.

I really liked the plot, it is horrifying at times, listening what happened to Kirstie and while I liked getting to know the characters, I can’t say I actually liked many of them.
Whether is was Hillier’s self assured righteousness that anyone with any kind of record clearly can’t ever be trusted again to the point she barely gives any other potential suspect a second place, to Max who came across as a bit sleazy behind his caring facade, they all drove me a little bit mad!

Hazel, who we hear from the most was I think the most frustrating. Her attitude and the way she acted made her seem so vulnerable, always playing the victim but it always seemed she played it that way on purpose, more than genuinely being vulnerable. I know the whole scenario of your sister killing a two year old must have been tough, but she always seemed ‘oh what about me’. 
Despite my dislike for many of the characters, it was definitely compulsive reading, getting into their mindsets

The ending left me a couple of minor questions that makes me want to know a little bit more, though overall I enjoyed this book. I wanted to keep reading it, to confirm if my suspicions were correct, and that’s one of the big requirements with thrillers, how compulsive it is and how much it gets under your skin, and The Flower Girls fits the bill.
Available at the supplied link on 21st October 2019
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A thrilling read which kept me turning the pages, characters you care for and just brilliantly written.  Great novel!!
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The Flower Girls is anything but the sweet story of childhood innocence its title might suggest, as Alice Clark-Platt’s novel deals with the disturbing and highly emotive subject of child abduction and murder where the perpetrators were children themselves.

The Flower Girls is what the media dubbed sisters Laurel (10) and Primrose (6) after they went on trial for the murder of a child who went missing. Laurel ended up going to prison where she still is to this day, while Primrose was given a new identity. One that is now in danger of being exposed 19 years later when Hazel (fka Primrose) is away for New Year with her partner and his daughter and a little girl goes missing from the hotel where they’re all staying.

It’s clever of Alice Clark-Platt to not only place Hazel in the vicinity of this latest missing girl but in the exact same hotel as the child was staying with her parents, as it helps to provide a heightened sense of what Hazel’s life must have been like since she was given her new identity.

When guests are confined to the hotel, it brings home the claustrophobia and fear of detection Hazel has felt for the past 19 years, living under the dally threat of being found and exposed by those who either don’t believe she deserved to be given a second chance and/or who are looking for a scoop.

The danger of being exposed could also prove damaging to older sister Laurel’s upcoming case review before the parole board, and help re-ignite the campaign against her release.

By framing The Flower Girls’ story within the present-day missing child case, Alice Clark-Platt shows the raw emotions of everyone involved in the immediate aftermath of a child’s disappearance, how the situation evolves with every passing minute she remains unaccounted for, together with the longer term impact on those involved in such a polarising case. But she’s also able to look at how a sensational case that hit the headlines still resonates, and is raked over again with each new case that’s reported.

The author looks at it from every perspective: from family member to police officers to perpetrator to traumatised potential witness/bystander to the press and media right down to concerned members of the public together with those who are more voyeuristic or looking to profit from it.

The Flower Girls explores the role of nature/nurture, whether evil can be present in children so young, the age of criminal responsibility, the potential for rehabilitation in such cases or whether those involved need lifelong supervision or professional help to protect them and wider society, public opinion, and the media’s role in reporting these cases and how responsible they are for influencing public opinion with their headlines and at best insensitive, at worst often sensationalist, reporting.

Alice Clark-Platts mines a dark seam for her material and this is a difficult and uncomfortable read, whether or not you’re familiar with the cases mentioned. (I’d question if direct reference to existing real cases even needed to be made but they are, so it’s a moot point.) It might not provide the answers some readers will be looking for but I think it raises questions that are well worth considering and exploring and which could form the basis for a fascinating (book group) discussion.

The Flower Girls is a disturbing but strangely compelling story and I’ll be interested to see what Alice Clark-Platts does next.
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As much as I kept reading, I didn't find this book to be as complex or gripping as I wanted it to be. However, I enjoyed the closed setting and I think Alice Clark-Platts' writing was strong so I might still pick something up by her in the future.
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I enjoyed reading this book, at first I thought I had it all worked out - I was wrong! I loved how the story unfolded and although I had guessed one of the twists, I wasn't expecting the second!
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It took me a long time to get into this book and found the pace and quality of writing inconsistent - some parts were rushed and some parts seemed to trail off. I also felt that some parts of the story were far too far-fetched and unbelievable.  The ending was a little unsatisfying.
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I don't want to give any spoilers to this book as it will ruin the story. It was very thought provoking and I liked that the author didn't go into graphic detail, instead just enough to use your own imagination. A great read that I would recommend.
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I read this novel quite a while ago now so I’m embarrassed that I’ve somehow managed not to review it before now. I will say that despite the gap the novel is still really quite fresh in my mind so it shows it’s a book that really gets under your skin! This is about two sisters who murdered a young child when they were also young children. One of them was old enough to face trial and the other wasn’t. They’re now adults and Laurel is out of prison and trying to build a new life under her new identity. This all comes unstuck when she goes on holiday with her partner and a child goes missing from the hotel. This is such a brilliant novel that explores lots of angles to a case like this in a sensitive and thought-provoking way. I flew through the book because I was desperate to know what was going to happen in the end. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t already read it.
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Oh my goodness! Really enjoyed it, finished it in two sittings, was well and truly freaked by the ending and how good the characters were. Loved it!
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“The Flower Girls” by Alice Clark-Platts is an ominous and intricate story of two sisters. The intensity of the work leaves the reader submersed in the world of the of the sisters from the opening pages. The reader learns the two sisters, Laurel and Primrose aka Rosie aka Hazel Archer, have been involved with the murder of a 2-year-old baby, Kirstie Swan. I want to include the babies name as in the other reviews she is nameless. This is a reflection of our society; we focus on the perpetrators rather than remember and consider the victim.

While “The Flower Girls” could be classified as a police procedural, the police are the supporting characters. The driving force of this story, even when not present in the scene, is Hazel Archer. Initially, I felt sorry for her and wanted some kind of positive resolution for her but at the heart of the book, I began to feel decidedly unnerved by her. It’s nothing I can describe here without spoiling the ending but readers should be prepared to be uncomfortable.

I liked the “The Flower Girls” but I can’t say I enjoyed it. There seems to be an unfeigned malignancy always waiting for the right moment to snap.

I may only have rated the book 3 stars but it is better served at 3.5. My thanks to @netgalley for an ARC copy.
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This was such a taut, tension filled book I felt I was having to hold my breath. So cleverly written, layer upon layer of Rosie/Hazel slowly peeled away until the heart of her was revealed. The heartbreaking story around Laurel disturbed me almost as much as the murder of baby Kirstie. I empathised with Joanne, wanting to make things better for her beloved sister. I thought all the characters were well drawn and I wanted to take Uncle Toby home and look after him. The whole thing was great, right up until the end, where one element spoiled it for me. However, as I loved most of the book, and thought the writing was excellent with sharp dialogue, I will definitely be looking out for more of this author's work
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This was incrediable. I didnt know all too much about it going into it, as you can see the synopsis is pretty vague, and i totally urge you to not start looking all to into depth about it because i feel knowing very little was the best way. This was a netgalley review book but i would 100% buy this.

The Flower Girls, at one time everyone knew them, two young girls - one who was convincted of murder, the other too young to be charged. One given a whole new life, one who is stuck behind bars never having experienced real life.

Nineteen years later,  another child has gone missing and all hell breaks loose as the Flower Girls are brought back into the spotlight. Told as it intertwines the two sisters over time, we get chance to slightly glimpse at the girls over time, as girls and women.

This book opened up some many questions, it was brilliantly written - the ending was unexpected and left me thinking about the book for days after. Whilst this is only a short review, i dont want to ruin this read, its a case of read this and discover for yourself but i highly reccomend it!
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Good read although not sure I enjoyed the ending, kept me turning pages though so it redeems itself there...Would recommend!
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This made quite uncomfortable reading at times. The many references to brutal, real-life killers of children and the sinister undertones to it. I guessed the twist quite early on, but really hoped that right would be done in the end. However, the last few paragraphs added another, unseen twist, which left me hanging and feeling rather shuddery.

It was hard to feel much sympathy for any of the characters. All were flawed and it felt we only scratched the surface of them. Indeed, there were probably a couple of characters too many, but all in all I enjoyed the book and I suspect it will stay with me for a while.
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