The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood – a review

This book is the first I’ve read by Alex Marwood, and was picked up on a whim when I was wandering around Waterstones a few months ago.

The story begins in 1986 with two young girls locked up for the murder of a younger child. 25 years later and after a change of identity for both girls their paths cross once again. Kirsty is now a reporter living with her husband and children who are unaware of her past crime. She is sent to investigate a series of brutal murders in a small seaside town. Here she comes face to face with her childhood friend, now called Amber. Amber is head cleaner at the funfair where the bodies are being left. The pair haven’t seen each other since they were both convicted of murder and one of the conditions of their new identities was that they were not to see each other again. However the shared history means they both find it hard to stay away, and in order to protect their secret they will have to work together.

Alongside the serial killer storyline that brings the two women back together there is a stalker on the loose who is changing who he has his sights on. In-between these two stories we also learn via flashbacks what happened on the day the girls first met and committed their crimes.

This book was a very good read. I thought that the way the author created the story and slowly revealed what had actually happened on the day the little girl was killed was done very cleverly. As an adult you can see what is about to happen, yet as young children the girls are not necessarily aware of the consequences of their actions. With this story there are of course obvious comparisons to other well known child murders, but putting that aside you start to feel sorry for the girls involved. It could be seen that what they do is purely a lack of judgement not actual desire to harm. The story shows how society often reacts to crimes they can’t comprehend and that things are not always as simple as a person simply being classed as ‘evil’

The serial killer plot was ok, although I’m not sure that the motives were particularly credible. I suspect that the serial killer was purely a vehicle to get the two girls to meet, but then I was mainly interested in how the girls story was panning out rather than anything the serial killer was doing.

I really enjoyed this, and thought it was a good story that makes you think about your perceptions of people, and how well you really know anyone. The twists within the story are based on how you change your ideas of the people involved rather than the usual ‘whodunnit’ stories but this made for an interesting read.

A very good debut novel and I’ll certainly be looking out for more of her work.

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