1 September 2022
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and also to Midas pr for the invitation to the blog tour
In search of a new life, sixteen-year-old Adriana Clark’s American 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 cliff side 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?
I am delighted to be able to share an extract from The Last Girl To Die (p.62-64)
An emerald mist was blowing off the sea at 5 a.m. It infiltrated the gaps in my ancient window and brought the scents of seaweed and salt. The curtains were damp as I pulled them back, and there was no chance I would fall back to sleep. Knowing that no one else in my corridor wanted to be woken at that time, I left my room and the hotel quietly, made for the hills behind the town and headed south. The drop away from the land to the sea was timeless. Beyond the town, the remoteness hit me. I saw only a handful of houses as I walked. Trees that had stood for generations lined my path and the heather underfoot added a scratchy cushioned layer to the earth. Seagulls eyed me suspiciously from the air, but it was the fishing boats and lobster pots they wanted. The island was a place removed from the world, and although Tobermory was a slice of civilisation, it hadn’t made a dent in the wildness of the scenery. The sea breathed in and out with me as I walked. Finally, back at The Last Bay Hotel, I showered, dressed, put on my best attitude and went to explore what the Mull Historical Emporium had to offer.
The once dark-green sign was weather faded to something less bold and more mossy, which was how the inside felt too. The dust was what I noticed first. Overhead lighting filtered into glass cabinets that should have sparkled, lighting up the debris of ages. Guidebooks and maps alongside history books with transparent plastic covers gave the Emporium the air of a dying library. Bric-a-brac sporting various clan motifs with fading price tags lined the walls and lay unloved on shelves. Portraits, landscapes, a few animal heads that made me queasy. A lock of hair in a pearl inlay box. Many of the displays offered minute handwritten information cards next to them. A ship’s manifest in a language I couldn’t make out. Half the items for sale, the remainder there to encourage tourists through the doors. Not quite a museum; not quite a shop. There were several areas to wander through, each tiny and featuring a different period in Mull’s history. Low oak beams, exposed inner walls and three small but beautiful open fireplaces. ‘Can I h-help?’ The stutter on the ‘h’ told me immediately who was standing behind me. He was close enough that I could feel the heat of his body against my back.
I turned my head to reply, but kept my body facing the fireplace I was admiring. ‘Hi,’ I said. ‘I was looking for a guidebook about the island.’ ‘I know who you are,’ he said. The sentence took time to get through, each word a trial. I waited for him to finish. Damp with sweat, his clothes needed more care, as did his hair and nails. ‘I love this building. How old is it?’ ‘1820,’ he said. I could smell sour fruit acid on his breath and his fingers flexed and twitched as he spoke to me. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Sadie,’ I replied. ‘Sadie,’ he repeated back to me slowly.
‘They call you Skittles, right?’ He gave a broad grin revealing teeth that confirmed what Rachel had told me about his diet. ‘Did you ever talk to Adriana? Did she ever come in here?’ His smile melted. ‘She’s d-d-dead,’ he said, the stutter worsening as his face reddened. I watched, recognising his limited abilities as we talked. At some point a diagnosis would surely have been made, but I was no psychologist. It seemed to me that Skittles was functioning only at a basic level. He could answer direct questions, repeat facts, ring purchases up on a till, but beyond that I had doubts. ‘Do you know Mackinnon’s Cave where she was found?’ I asked. ‘It’s d-dark there at night,’ was his reply. ‘Don’t l-like it.’ ‘Really?’ I said. ‘I thought I saw you going out late last night. You got in your car and drove somewhere.’ His eyes slid from my gaze. ‘Get you a g-guidebook,’ he muttered, walking off. I followed, disliking the fact that I was leaping to conclusions, but the seeds were planted in my mind and already sprouting. ‘Do you live here too or just work here?’ I asked as he reached up to a shelf behind the counter and took down a book. ‘Live,’ he said. ‘Nine ninety-nine.’ I handed over a ten-pound note and watched as his fingers took their time punching each button on the old-fashioned till. I picked up my purchase and left to check out Adriana’s regular haunts and retrace the steps of her final day.
Photo by kind permission of the author
📖 My Review..
Sadie Levesque is a Canadian private investigator who has been employed by an American family living on the Isle of Mull who are desperate to find their missing teenage daughter. The disappearance of sixteen year-old Adriana Clark has left the small Scottish town of Tobermory bewildered but when Sadie discovers a body in an isolated cave, it would seem that the townsfolk start to close ranks and with a less than helpful local police force, Sadie soon finds that she is battling against prejudice, local indifference and long buried superstition.
Sadie Levesque is an interesting protagonist, she's not afraid to challenge the local police team, ruffling feathers and upsetting male egos in her quest to uncover the dark and deadly secrets of Tobermory and the reasons why young girls in the town are being targeted in such a terrifying way. As always this talented author get right into the heart of the action, weaving complex strands of the story with precision and with interesting dialogue from the island itself which gives an extra insight into its dark and mysterious past. The story moves along quickly as there is much to discover and many twists, turns and red herrings before the final sad denouement, which doesn't disappoint.
Mysterious, addictive and compulsive reading, The Last Girl to Die is an atmospheric standalone thriller which uses local myth, pagan legends and eerie superstition to bring this thrilling story to life.
📖 Best read with..a comforting glass of single malt whisky
About the Author
|Photo by kind permission of the author|
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 #TheLastGirlToDie
|Photo by kind permission of the author|