‘The seaweed was a grotesque crown – she was a dead beauty queen belonging to the sea.‘
[ About the Book ]
In search of a new life, seventeen-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?
[ My Review ]
The Last Girl to Die by Helen Fields publishes today September 1st with Avon Books and is the eleventh book set in Scotland from this award winning crime writer, twice shortlisted for the McIllvanney Scottish Crime Book of the Year. The Last Girl to Die is set on the Isle of Mull which, as an island, provides the novel with a great sense of the claustrophobic. In researching for the book, Helen Fields delved deep into the history of the island which added an extraordinary level of authenticity to the story.
‘As part of her research for The Last Girl to Die, Helen discovered a number of legends about the Isle of Mull, many to do with the witches of Mull which she uses in the book, including the legendary Mull witch Doideag (which means “little frizzle”) who was said to be more powerful than the Clan Chief and responsible for the sinking of a Spanish Galleon. Also at the heart of the novel is the ancient Lochbuie Stone Circle: nine granite rocks that sit silently in their own natural amphitheatre, overlooked by the slopes of Ben Buie. Although most visitors find it a place of tranquillity, legend has it that the area is haunted.
Helen has also set the murders in the novel in Mull’s famous Mackinnon’s Cave – one of the deepest sea caves in the Hebrides, where legend tells of a piper who was walking his dog in the cave came to a sticky end when a female ogre became unimpressed with his performance. The dog survived but emerged crazed and hairless with fright. Deep inside the cave lies a large, flat slab of rock, which is known as Fingal’s Table which was used as an altar by hermits and early followers of the Christian church and also features in the novel.’
When Sadie Levesque arrives on the Isle of Mull she is met with immediate hostility. A young girl, Adriana Clarke, a blow-in to the island with her family, has been missing for days. The local police are lacking and the girl’s parents hire Sadie for her renowned skills as a PI who specialises in tracking missing teenagers. Canada based, this trip to Scotland is a new experience for Sadie. As an outdoor enthusiast, she had hoped someday to visit Scotland and to experience its raw beauty and volatile climate but she never expected to be there in search of a missing teenager.
Adriana Clarke and her family were relatively new to the island having left their busy lives in America for a more isolated existence in Mull. Always considered strangers Adriana struggled to find friendship but she did get work in one of the local pubs. One morning it was discovered that Adriana never came home. Her parents were immediately concerned but the local police were very slow to react. The fact that they were new seemed to negate the general sense of urgency so Sadie Levesque was hired privately to pick up on the seeming incompetence of the local police.
Sadie, working on pure instinct and personal experience, discovers the body of Adriana, brutally murdered and left to the sea in Mackinnon’s Cave. Sickened by what she sees, Sadie promises the Clarkes that she will find the evil individual behind this barbaric act, taking whatever action is needed, but Sadie is very unprepared for what she encounters as the days pass by.
An island of secrets, an island with a past that clings to its rocks and its roots, the Isle of Mull is its own character in this tale, a place steeped in legends, with tales of witches and seamen, of death and daring. The bleakness of the island on a dark and cold day seeps under the skin with ominous descriptions and a constant lurking threat throughout as the pages turn. All the individual characters are wonderfully depicted from the local oddball to the less than welcoming local police. Helen Fields captures the insularity and prejudices of the local community with great accuracy, adding an extra chilling layer to the storyline.
Sadie is constantly stonewalled, even when her situation takes an even more sinister turn. Her life is threatened but, battered and bruised, she persists in her search until, eventually, with a truly shocking and jaw-dropping twist, the truth reveals itself.
The Last Girl to Die is a well-paced, breath-taking read that will leave any reader gobsmacked and the worse for wear. Fantastically creepy, it is devastating in its reveals and gruesome in part. Superstition is rife throughout with some local activity very much in opposition to the church and its teachings, adding to the overall intensity of the tale. The Last Girl to Die is a compelling and captivating story, enigmatic, haunting, unsettling and tense.
[ Bio ]
A former criminal and family law barrister, Helen Fields has the expertise and experience to make the characters and plots scorch with authenticity.
With a background as both a prosecutor and defence counsel, Helen Fields has a depth of knowledge about crime that lends a fierceness to her writing. From Court Martials to care proceedings, the Coroner Courts to the Crown Court, Fields draws on her professional years for the extraordinary colour and texture that makes her writing jump off the page.
Twice long-listed for the McIllvanney Scottish Crime Book of the Year, and a multi-bestselling author whose books have been translated across the globe, Fields consistently produces high impact, compelling novels that readers love.
Now translated into 22 languages, and also selling in the USA, Canada & Australasia, Helen’s books have won global recognition. In 2020 Helen’s novel, ‘Perfect Kill’ was longlisted for the Crime Writers Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. In 2020 Perfect Remains was shortlisted for the Bronze Bat, Dutch debut crime novel of the year. Helen also writes as HS Chandler, and has released legal thriller ‘Degrees of Guilt’. Her audio book ‘Perfect Crime’ knocked Michelle Obama off the #1 spot.
Twitter ~ @Helen_Fields