Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Flower Girls

Rate this book

The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.

One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.

Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.

And The Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again...

352 pages, Hardcover

First published January 24, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Alice Clark-Platts

10 books156 followers
I am a former human rights lawyer who used to work for the UK Government. As a litigator, I worked on cases involving Winnie Mandela and the rapper Snoop Dogg. I loved my job but then we re-located to the tropics and now I live in wonderful Singapore.

I also write short stories which have been published in in various anthologies. And when I’m not writing, I’m running The Singapore Writers’ Group which I founded in 2012. This is a fantastic group of both professional and amateur writers who meet monthly and attend workshops and critique sessions

Found on: http://www.aliceclarkplatts.com/

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
859 (17%)
4 stars
1,911 (38%)
3 stars
1,601 (32%)
2 stars
440 (8%)
1 star
102 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 767 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,704 reviews25k followers
November 29, 2018
Alice Clark-Platt's nightmarish and chilling psychological thriller brings back memories of the notoriously unforgettable 1993 murder of toddler Jamie Bulger by two boys. Here we have the character driven disturbingly unsettling story of 10 year old Laurel and her sister, 6 year old Primrose aka Rosie, who abduct, torture and kill 2 year old Kirstie Swann in 1997. The girls became tabloid and media fodder, becoming the infamous Flower Girls. Laurel is convicted and imprisoned, but Rosie is deemed too young to be held responsible, and given a new identity as Hazel. Now 19 years later, Hazel and her boyfriend, Jonny, who knows her real identity and his daughter, Evie are at a hotel in Devon. The weather is dire, with snowstorms when 5 year old girl, Georgie, goes missing. The past is about the haunt the present as a frantic search to find Georgie takes place to find her as quickly as possible and Hazel's life begins to spiral out of control.

In the meantime, a bitter and resentful Laurel claims the death of Kirstie was an accident and is appealing the decision of the parole board. To all intents and purposes, her family appear to have abandoned her, and only her lawyer uncle has been in regular contact and supported her. Hazel's life is bought back into the spotlight as her real identity is revealed. The police are convinced that she is behind Georgie's disappearance given her shocking history, a case of history repeating itself. Max, an ex-journalist sees an opportunity for a exclusive story that he wants to turn into a book. Laurel's appeal faces implacable opposition from the lawyer aunt of Kirstie, Joanna Denton, intent on proclaiming the rights of the victim through a campaigning group 'Bang to Rights'. In a story that goes back and forth in time, we are given a clearer picture of the past, of what happened to Kirstie, and Laurel's trial. There are surprising twists as the Flower Girls once again come to connect, and we are given an unexpected ending.

Platt-Clark is a human rights lawyer, and to her credit she takes a non-sensationalist approach in the novel. She raises a number of pertinent issues, on evil and the debate between nature and nurture, morality, the influence attached to the court of public opinion, crime and punishment, and how far members of the media will go to get a story. Without doubt, this is an uncomfortable read, but it is also a gripping and thought provoking read on a subject most people would not wish to dwell on. I found this dark novel fascinating reading in the way it challenges perceptions people might have and the sensitive manner in which the author tackles such a difficult and traumatic topic. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,190 reviews1,128 followers
April 15, 2020
Clever and twisty and a great lockdown read. My fist novel by Alice Clark- Platts and I found it chilling and compelling and the perfect “take your mind of the present” book that worked perfectly for me.

While trying to remain a Positive Polly in the current climate, I am trying to stay away from anything too heavy or taxing and I find Historical fiction or trillers under 400 pages work well for me at the movement. Keeps me engaged and my mind busy.

The Flower Girls was a well paced and enjoyable twisty thriller. The tale of two sisters, Laurel and Primrose who at the ages of 6 and 10 were involved in a horrendous crime and the murder of a small child, one convicted of murder and the other given a new identity. Now nineteen years later another child has gone missing and the Flower girls past is once again coming back to haunt them.

A thought provoking and chilling read that kept me engrossed until the end. Lots of twists and turns and full of suspense to keep the reader entertained. The sort of book that is easy to pick up and get lost in for an hour here and there or a book you can read straight through as it is only 350 pages long.

I listened to this one on Audible and the narration was excellent and added to my enjoyment of the story.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,892 reviews1,642 followers
December 16, 2018
In 1997, two little girls (sisters) aged 10 & 6 abducted and killed a two year old toddler. The older girl was charged with the crime but younger one got a new identity. The younger sister (Rosie) went on to lead a normal life. 19 years later, another young girl does missing at the hotel where Rosie was staying. The Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines again!

This is quite an uncomfortable book to read. It is indeed a twisted tale. The murder of the two year old girl read a lot like what happened to James Bulger. We are taken back regularly to 1997 where we learn of the sisters childhood before, during and after the murder. We also get glimpses of the older sisters trial. The book itself is sensitively written and utterly compelling. There are plenty of vivid characters. This story will definitely mix with your emotions that stay with you long after you've finished the book.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & Anz) and the author Alice Clark-Platts for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,245 reviews641 followers
December 26, 2018
Laurel and Primrose (Rosie) Bowman became known as the "flower girls" after they abducted and killed a toddler in the 1990s. Laurel, aged 10 was tried as an adult and found guilty of murder but Rosie, only 6 years old was considered too young to charge and was instead given a new identity as Hazel Archer. She and her parents move away and have no further contact with Laurel. Twenty years later Laurel has been trying to get parole but is being blocked by the dead toddler's family who feel she should never be released. Now grown up, Hazel and her boyfriend Jonny are staying in a hotel when five year old Georgie goes missing and when Hazel's true identity becomes known she immediately becomes a suspect. Amid the media frenzy, Max, a writer and journalist staying at the hotel offers to write her side of the Flower Girl story to help clear her name.

Although this made for an uncomfortable read at times, I thought this novel raised lots of issues and some interesting questions that would make good discussion for a book group. Can a very young child be evil? How old should they be before they should be responsible for their actions? How long should a child be incarcerated for killing? And would a young child who killed another child be likely to re-offend as an adult? There is also the role that the media and public outrage play in cases like this.

I thought the pacing of the novel was good, with the intertwining of Laurel and Rosie's stories. I would have liked to have found out a bit more about that day in 1997 when the toddler was killed, not so much the gory details, but how the toddler came to have a number of injuries . Also I think more could have been made of the twist at the end, not so much to pre-empt it but maybe to make it fit better by adding in some unexplained facts as a teaser a bit earlier.

With thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for a digital copy to read
Profile Image for Mark.
1,198 reviews
January 24, 2019

2 Sisters go out to play, while they are out they abduct and murder a baby!
The 2 sisters Laurel and Primose are caught, one is charged and is put away for life, one is too young to be prosecuted and so has her name changed ( and her parents ) and her life is led in secret
19 years on a little girl goes missing at the hotel her and her fiancé are staying at....of course the truth of who she is comes out....but is she involved in this crime?....she then decides to go and visit her Sister in prison, for the first time, then the truth amongst many lies starts to emerge
The book is menacing and certainly didn’t have any ‘LOL’ moments!,I found the writing cold but then am guessing it was meant to be that way, its not the book to call cosy, by any means, the regular references to Hindley etc also chill you even more
The Sisters are both horrible characters, again they are meant to be and if the author was hoping to create characters to despise then she succeeded!
The other players in the book are equally unpleasant and there is an above average quota of stomach acid that they all seem to have!
Some of the plot I found far fetched and some storylines petered out, I could see why they were there but just fizzled off when kinda ‘dealt with’
There are 2 endings, one which I am sure many will guess as I did but then the last 2 pages have an abhorrent ending that ( and I read a lot!!) shocked me and made me pull a eurrghhhh no way face! Then theres an extra bit added to the 2nd ending that made me grimace even more
If the author wanted to create a book that got you at the end, again she succeeded!!!
A disturbing uneasy read that will stay with you, the ending raised my overall score for the book
Profile Image for Sandra.
233 reviews56 followers
July 23, 2020
Sisters Laurel and Rosie ..... two little girls aged 10 and 6. A toddler in a playground goes missing. Laurel and Rosie in their den by the canal playing mums and dads and a crying, distraught child! The next day the toddler is found dead by the canal.
Laurel is found guilty of abduction and murder and is imprisoned. As the media interest was so high, Rosie (as she was so young) was given a new name (Holly) along with her mum and dad, to start a new life.
19 years later, a young girl goes missing in the hotel Holly is staying in, her previous identity is uncovered and the media frenzy starts again.
Told from several perspectives and to flashbacks at the time of the crime and the subsequent court case.
The premise sounds a great one, but unfortunately it didn’t really work for me. I thought the main character came across naive at times and because of that irritated me. Also I was not pulled along by the plot...... I feel I am being hash as I didn’t dislike the book, just against others I have read it falls a little short.
I did guess the main twist of the story and the ending.... well .... errr ... what was that all about? 🤔
So probably 2.5⭐️
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,470 reviews1,009 followers
August 25, 2018
I read The Flower Girls in one sitting- utterly compelling and a real page turner.
It’s not a new story – children committing horrific crime then years later the consequences of their actions still resonate- but Alice Clark-Platts tells it so well, with an underlying and unsettling sense of emotion that gets under your skin.
This is a purely character driven drama, two sisters, one in prison, one who was too young to be brought to account and assumed to have been lead by her evil sibling. Now another  child has gone missing and the truth will out – or will it?
This is a twisted tale indeed with sinister undertones and a genuinely realistic feel. Child killers are both horrific and fascinating if we are honest with ourselves and the author plays on that as the drama unfolds, cleverly messing with perception and ultimately leaving the reader with a distinctly uneasy feeling.
Overall this was a terrific, addictive read, beautifully atmospheric and intelligently woven.
Profile Image for Lisa.
781 reviews
September 10, 2020
What can i say about this book that was one crazy chilling bent & terrifying novel I LOVED IT!!!!!
Alice Clark - PLatts takes you into a chilling account of two sisters Laurel & Rosie Who tortured & killed Georgie a little girl who would not hurt a fly. The setting is in Devon 1997, Laurel is sent to jail & Rosie only 6 left Devon & never returned.

!( years later Rosie (AKA) Hazel) is trying to get on with her life & does not remember anything of what happened that fateful day, until Kristie Swann goes missing the townsfolk search high & low but no trace of her is found. Then someone recognizes Hazel & her world as she knows it turns pear shaped , The media called them THE FLOWER GIRLS!!

DC Hillier comes in to investigate & finds she has more questions than answers the prose is chilling & mention Child Killer John Venables among others who everyone knows about, Hillier did not trust Hazel & thought she knew more about what happened back then & Hillier was determined to find out what she knew.

Loved this from start to finish the characters were well fleshed out & the prose chilled me to my skin there were a lot of twists & turns than a merry go round & the pacing was excellent, i am looking forward tio this authors next offering, this was one terrifying read.
Profile Image for Nadia.
271 reviews178 followers
October 27, 2018
This was an intense and very disturbing read and I'm still processing how I feel about it.

In 1997, two little sisters aged 10 and 6 abducted and killed a two year old toddler. The older sister has been charged with the crime but the younger one, Rosie, was given a new identity and lived a happy life until another little girl goes missing at a hotel where Rosie is staying.

Reading about the abduction of a young child will probably make everyone feel quite uncomfortable. That's how I felt throughout reading the Flower Girls. However, despite the dark nature of the synopsis, the book gripped me and it was hard to put down. 

19 years after the crime, there are still many open questions about the case. The answers are provided to us progressively by switching between chapters set in the present and in 1997.

What I am still struggling to get over, is the ending of the book. It definitely does not sit well with me and it left me feeling uneasy but I suppose that's what the author's intention was.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for my Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Bex (Beckie Bookworm).
2,012 reviews1,310 followers
January 26, 2019

So this was such a chillingly interesting premise and almost from the onset here because of the delicate and disturbing subject matter we are being exposed to I felt an almost deep sense of unease and dread down to my very bones.
This really wasn't an easy subject to take on board and digest: but it was one I really wanted to tackle just because of the discomforting content and unpleasant questions this poses when dealing with the actions of children and their culpability when committing such horrific crimes and while there were instances I found The Flower Girls to be thought Provoking and intense I also thought it started with a bang then slowly fizzled away leaving me feeling rather deflated inside as I was really expecting so much more then what I was actually given.
So this is told in then and now time and from multiple POV's: it also jumped around slightly which could be a tad disconcerting at times.
I loved the way this was almost a puzzle: a mystery to be solved and it did make me question what to actually take at face value here and how authentic was the limited information we were being dripfed by the author.
I was also left with questions here: one being the conspiracy of silence for so many years between the girls themselves.
I really liked where this eventually took us in regards to that end reveal: but did feel that this should have been expanded on and some clarity offered regarding the Why?
This did to me feel unfinished with that rather abrupt ending and I felt like I was leaving the story before the eventual conclusion was offered up.
I did enjoy this mostly but on reflection, there were just some aspects here that didn't quite work for me.
I would still recommend this as its very well written and in my opinion, did have more positives than negatives.
I voluntary reviewed an Arc of The Flower Girls.
All opinions expressed are entirely my own.


Reviewed By Beckie Bookworm
Profile Image for Adele Shea.
505 reviews16 followers
January 14, 2019
I hate to say this but the book has really disappointed me. It took me a while to get into it as I felt the beginning a bit messy but once I got into it I liked it.
What was the ending all about? I feel let down with such an abrupt ending. It feels unfinished somehow.
Profile Image for Suz.
1,155 reviews600 followers
June 10, 2023
I just stumbled across this title which I’d stated ‘review to follow’. This was four years ago. I don’t like not reviewing every book I have read.

I remember it being very twisty, a shocking twist, and a back flip between a big assumption between the two sisters who’d committed a heinous crime as youngsters.

In saying this, my appetite has been whetted and perhaps this means a reread is in the air. Especially as I can fly through the audio.
Profile Image for Μαρία Αλεξοπούλου.
Author 2 books146 followers
October 31, 2020
Εξαρχής μου τράβηξε το ενδιαφέρον η περίληψη γιατί ήμουν βέβαιη πως θα ξετύλιγα σταδιακά έναν καλοπλεγμένο μίτο αλήθειας. H αφήγηση τρέχει σε δύο χρόνους, το παρελθόν που διεπράχθη το αποτρόπαιο έγκλημα και το παρόν, με τις συνέπειες να βαραίνουν και να συνθλίβουν τους ώμους των ηρωίδων. Με τη βοήθεια της συγγραφέως τοποθετούμε στο εδώλιο και τις δύο αδελφές για να τις ‘’δικάσουμε’’. Σίγουρα συνέβαλε το γεγονός πως η Αlice Clark-Platts είναι πρώην δικηγόρος ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων. Άλλο ένα θετικό στοιχείο είναι η γρήγορη ροή του βιβλίου χάρη στην στρωτή γλώσσα χωρίς εντυπωσιασμούς και στον μικρό χωρισμό των κεφαλαίων (είμαι υπέρμαχος των μικρών κεφαλαίων και θα είμαι φορ εβερ!). Η εξήγηση δεν προσφέρεται εύκολα στον αναγνώστη, κυριολεκτικά την ανακαλύπτουμε στις τελευταίες σελίδες, σχηματίζοντας με το στόμα ένα έκπληκτο «Ο».

Εν κατακλείδι, είναι ένα αξιοπρεπέστατο whodunit βιβλίο μυστηρίου που διαβάζεται πολύ εύκολα και θα εκπλήξει ακόμη και τον πιο υποψιασμένο αναγνώστη.

Η κριτική δημοσιεύτηκε πρώτα στο Οne girl, one pen
Profile Image for Mandy White (mandylovestoread).
2,130 reviews580 followers
January 25, 2019
I loved this book, so different from other books that I have been reading recently. I read this over 10 days with Pigeonhole Books and at times I just wanted to keep reading to know what was going to happen next.

The story of 2 sisters Laurel and Rosie. Laurel is convicted of the murder of 2 year old Kristie and sent to jail. Rosie is too young and is given a new identity and a new life. 19 years later her real identity is revealed .
Profile Image for Amanda.
899 reviews253 followers
February 16, 2019
I was so engrossed with this book that I devoured it in one sitting. This was chilling as this could have been a true story. Unfortunately children murdering another child has happened in real life!!

When the flower girls Rosie and Laurel were aged 6 and 10, they were playing in the park and take a toddler called Kirstie down to the canal, where they commit a heinous crime.

One sister goes to prison whilst the other one is given a new identity. Hazel is staying at a seaside hotel with her partner Jonny and his teenage daughter Evie when a child goes missing, straight away Hazel is the chief suspect but she has always denied hurting Kirstie. Will she ever be free from her past?

This is a twisted story. I have never really thought about the criminal’s family and how they would be affected and judged by the public and the press. Worse of course as they were children when they committed the crime, where did this evilness come from, nature or nurture?

A fascinating book that’s chilling but very thought provoking, the ending has stayed with me long after finishing this story.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Nicki.
623 reviews2 followers
September 5, 2018
Oh,Wow,just Wow. There isn't enough superlatives in the English language to describe how much I loved this book.It's the mesmerising,thought-provoking,chilling story of two sisters Laurel (10) and Primrose (Rosie) (6) who tortured and murdered two year old Kirstie Swann on a warm summer's day in 1997. Dubbed The Flower Girls by the press,Laurel was convicted whilst Rosie who due to her young age couldn't be held accountable was given a new identity and a new life.

On New Years Eve,nineteen years later at a motel on the Devon Cliffs,a five year old girl goes missing. When it is discovered that Hazel (Rosie) is staying at the hotel,The Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again

This riveting,page turner features a number of vivid characters including Hazel,laurel,Max (the ex journalist) DC Lorna Hillier and Joanna Denton (Kirstie`s aunt). Throughout the book the reader is taken back in time to 1997 where we learn about Laural and Rosie`s childhood before,during and after the murder and there is also brief coverage of Laurel`s trial.The murder of poor little Kirstie is frighteningly similar to the torture and murder of poor little Jamie Bulger in 1993 and the question of accountability and wether criminals can be rehabilitated is raised throughout the story. Should someone who has committed and been convicted of a serious crime be released back into society? Should suspected and convicted criminals be given new identities and new lives? Why would a child even consider killing another child? are children born evil or can their actions be linked to unfavourable environmental factors? The author covers these highly moral issues with sensitivity and without being overly moralistic.

I love a book that plays with my emotions,I want to feel something about the characters and that is definitely what happened whilst I was reading this character driven thriller. There was characters I liked,disliked,annoyed me,frustrated me,sympathised with,changed my mind about and just plain gave me the creeps. Once I started reading this book,I didn't want to put it down,I was 100% hooked in from the first page right through to the spine chilling,shocking conclusion. The ending gives me chills everytime I think about it and is going to play on my mind for a very long time. I would love to watch a tv adaptation of this book and think it is worth far more than five stars.Very very highly recommended by little old me.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury publishing Inc/Raven Books for a arc of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,854 reviews1,641 followers
January 23, 2019
The Flower Girls, Alice Clark-Platts debut thriller is both emotional and chilling due to the thought-provoking and complex plot. It reminded me right away of the James Bulger case, and as if the horror of finding a murdered child isn't enough the brutal, merciless killers are children themselves. Just like the Bulger case, this story brings a lot of emotion to the surface as we struggle to decipher why these children would carry out such an incident and how much culpability do they have for their actions at certain ages? It's quite didactic which I liked; it dealt with morality in a subtle way rather than shoving preconceived ideas down your throat. Having studied law at degree level the questions surrounding intent, age, brain capacity and responsibility of children for their actions were endlessly compelling to me. By the end of the book I had so many questions, and I love it when a novel is both rivetingly good and inspires a multitude of questions to arise in a readers mind.

This is an exquisitely written, intense and disturbing story, and I raced through it in a single sitting; I was just too far in to put it down and it had activated my mind and created much food for thought. The tension throughout is palpable, and there is an undertone of pure dread because of the nature of the crime, which never really dissipates. This is indeed a masterclass in crafting an absorbing yarn which plays with your emotions, and I know this is a story that will stay with me for a long time to come. There's something so shocking about the idea of two seemingly innocent children taking part in such a horrendous act. Should they get to live in witness protection? Should they be locked up for life? Will the first crime committed lead to recidivism? So many questions...

Many thanks to Raven Books for an ARC.
April 24, 2019
The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts. (2019).

Laurel and Primrose are the Flower Girls. Nineteen years ago, one was convicted of murder and the other got a new identity. But now another child has gone missing. So the Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines again...

This novel is quite compelling. It's always a seriously creepy thought that there are rare children out there who murder other children, and this book plays on that creepiness. This is particularly in play with the flashback sections which briefly look at what happened when the Flower Girls were small. Also fascinating is the follow on effect on both the victim's and the perpetrator's families for the rest of their lives, that effect being influenced by the media. There were a few twists throughout the storyline including a couple of big ones; one which I would consider the main secret/twist I saw coming and the others I didn't. There were a few unanswered questions for me but that didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book.
Overall this is quite a suspenseful story which fans of psychological thrillers could enjoy.
Profile Image for Julie Parks.
230 reviews64 followers
October 19, 2018
It's true. You'll never forget THE FLOWER GIRLS.
This book is bound to stay in your memory for a long time. It's emotional and provocative, and it makes you question things you would otherwise choose not to because they're not the kind of questions that have good, satisfactory answers anyway. Sometimes it's just life. Or a good story.

This book is absolutely perfect for thriller fans who prefer a solid plot to a PR hype. It's a guessing game with a proper, and yet shocking, ending.

Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Dale Harcombe.
Author 14 books316 followers
October 13, 2019
Three and a half stars.
When they are 10 and 6, Laurel and Primose (Rosie) abduct a baby. Later she is found dead and Laurel is charged and convicted, while Rose is seen as too young to understand. When the parents and Rosie are subjected to abuse, they are given new identities. Rose becomes Hazel and, with no contact with the imprisoned Laurel, manages to hide her identity. Until.....another child goes missing. During the investigations the truth comes out that Hazel is in reality one of the two known as The Flower Girls.
This is a tense, chilling story. Not comfortable reading but somehow compelling. A lot of use of the f word in this one as well.
I had my thoughts about certain aspects of the story, which were proved right, though there were also a couple of surprises. Not pleasant ones. The ending I found chilling. Left me wishing I had not read it at all. Just didn’t sit well. A couple of things too left unexplained in regards to the crime and behaviour. Definitely time now to move on to something lighter that is purely for reading pleasure , I decided.
Profile Image for Gerry.
26 reviews1 follower
January 24, 2019
After I finished reading this I walked away thinking that I would give it 3 stars. I felt that while the book was nothing amazing it was still an easy read and compelling enough to keep me going back.

Then I kept thinking about it. Over and over. The more I kept thinking about it the more I realised that I didn’t want to give it 3 stars after all. I actually wanted to give it 2 stars. So I did.

I don’t like ‘downgrading’ books from what I originally rated and I don’t do it often. So why did I do it here?

On reflection, The Flower Girls is a fairly average crime thriller. A murder was committed many years ago, someone was arrested for it and justice was served. Flash forward nineteen years to a cold winter day at a hotel where a young girl goes missing (but who is found quite quickly).

The story comes into play because one of the guests is a young woman aged 25. Nothing remarkable perhaps aside from the fact that she’s one of the titular ‘Flower Girls,’ a term coined for a pair of sisters (aged 10 and 6) who tortured and murdered a toddler those nineteen years ago.

Laurel, aged 10, was the one convicted for the crime and has spent her life in prison. Rose, aged 6, was the one deemed too young to be responsible and was given a new identity. We now know her as Hazel.

The tension comes from two factors; did Hazel have something to do with the disappearance of the girl at the hotel and exactly how involved was Hazel in the original murder?

Maybe this isn’t what I was expecting it to be. It was compelling enough for me to continue reading but I didn’t feel like the stakes were high because sadly I could see the ending coming at me like car headlights. Maybe we were meant to work it out. Maybe I’ve just watched a lot of police dramas on TV.

The characters are not particularly compelling. We sit inside the heads of Hazel, Laurel, Max (a writer at the hotel who wants to use the information he knows on Hazel to benefit his career), Hillier (the cop trying to solve the disappearance of the missing girl), Joanna (aunt of the murdered toddler) and Toby (uncle of Laurel who is trying to get her parole).

That’s a lot of character perspectives for a crime thriller.

Unfortunately I feel the author was using the larger cast of characters and their varying perspectives to weigh in on the debates of ‘is evil born or created‘ and ‘when can we say someone has been fully punished for their crime‘ but this just didn’t fully work for me. The characters became devices rather than fleshed out characters and because there’s some unreliable narrators involved I actually felt a little cheated with purposeful misdirection.

Maybe I just wanted a more terse, psychological thriller and uncertainty. I never ask for uncertainty in stories but I wonder if here it would have been used for better effect.

But I’m probably saying that because I just didn’t like the ending. And as that’s the last thing you read in a book (shocker) that’s probably another reason why I changed my rating from a 3 to a 2.

I would have preferred uncertainty to the author’s ending which seems to concretely answer the question of ‘is evil born or created’ while simultaneously not providing any answers of substance. It’s hard for me to further elaborate without spoilers and I don’t want to spoil.

Now I must be completely honest with you and I hope it doesn’t offend: –

As mentioned before I found The Flower Girls to be a fairly average crime thriller. But I think the reason why this book is so hyped is because it benefits from the ‘sensationalism’ of having two young girls murder a baby.
And this is where I can’t separate my subjectivity from objectivity.

It’s a piece of fiction. Yep. Fine. It’s a piece of fiction that made me feel uncomfortable. Yep. Fine. The ending made me feel uncomfortable. Fine.

The frequent references and comparisons to a real life case in order to highlight how shocking this fictional murder was made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t feel so fine.

If you’re comfortable with this, that’s fine (and no, this review is not about how many times I can use the word ‘fine’ even though it does appear to be a lot) but I didn’t like it and ultimately our reading experiences are personal because we’re humans not robots.

The real life case often referred to and I believe acts as inspiration to ‘The Flower Girls’ is that of Jamie Bulger which happened in the UK in 1993. If you want more details I suggest Google but it is horrid and involves two ten year old boys torturing and murdering a two year old.

The problem I have is that The Flower Girls references Jamie Bulger a lot. I feel this is to get the readers to fill in the blanks as to how horrifying the fictionalised crime is but a) that’s lazy writing, b) the author doesn’t provide any intelligent insight into the crimes, c) the book sensationalises the crime and glamorises Hazel without providing a narrative as to why this is not a good thing.

Like I said – I can’t separate my subjectivity from objectivity. This is on me. I didn’t like something and I didn’t like it enough for me to rate the book 2 stars.

Even if I remove the subjectivity then sadly I think this is an average crime book using sensationalism to give it a boost.

Maybe I should just stick to Agatha Christie.
Profile Image for daniela weber.
261 reviews64 followers
January 10, 2022
between beautiful rosie/hazel and her
trustworthy sister laurel, the myriad of
characters and their individual intentions 
kept me interested but not really invested,
maybe because motivations were so thin.
Profile Image for BeccaJBooks.
361 reviews24 followers
February 4, 2019
This is the story of the Flower Girls. Two sisters, who back in 1997, were involved in a truly horrific crime - the torture and murder of a two year old girl. What makes this even more despicable, if possible, is the ages of the sisters. Laurel was ten when the crime was committed and Rosie was just six yeas old.

Laurel was sent to a children's 'prison' until she reached eighteen, then she was transferred to an adult prison, where ten years later, she remains. Rosie was considered too young to be held responsible in the death of two year old Kirstie, so was given a new identity and moved away from Laurel, with her mother and father.

Rosie now goes by the name Hazel, and whilst on a holiday in Devon with her boyfriend, another young girl goes missing at the hotel she is staying in. Will the police find out Hazel is Rosie? Will they blame her for the disappearance of another toddler? Did Hazel have something to do with it? Will they find the missing girl?

This story is told from the perspective of a multitude of characters: Hazel, Laurel, Hillier - the police detective on the new disappearance case, Max - a journalist/writer also staying at the hotel, and Joanna - Kirstie's aunt who has been campaigning against Laurel's release from prison, since she came up for parole the first time, ten years ago.

I enjoyed hearing everyone's view point, and felt this gave the story more weight. We heard the different sides to each bit of the story and there were different emotions being shown, depending on who we were hearing from at the time. Each character was so very well written, that I could distinguish between them easily.

Hazel is a complex character, one which we feel sorry for, and also wary of at the same time. Do we empathise with her plight of being the sister of the notorious Laurel Bowman, the child murderer? Or do we treat her with caution, that she was involved in the torture of a child. Hazel has always protested her innocence. Even now, she can't remember all the details of that fateful day.

This story fills you with tension. It discusses the debate between being born evil or learning it. Are children evil? It explores the age of criminal responsibility. And while it doesn't go into gory details about the 1997 crime, it lets you fill in the blanks for yourself, which in a way is worse. You conjure up images of past stories like it. Of other past crimes involving children, especially little Jamie Bulger.

I would recommend this to crime fans. It is fast paced, switching back and forth between 1997 and now. As the book progresses we learn little bits here and there about what happened that day, and who each of the characters really are. When the new disappearance case closes so early on in the book, I was a bit taken aback as to where the book was now going. But the story was so well crafted that I didn't have to wait long to see.

Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,488 reviews2,706 followers
September 25, 2018
This is the 3rd Clark-Platts book I've read and she's consistently turned in books with more substance and intelligence than we sometimes find in this genre. That said, the obligatory twist here is one we've surely all seen before in a myriad other psychological thrillers, and the over-egged final scene is so campily OTT that I found myself giggling...

Nevertheless, important issues of punishment, reparation and justice are treated sensitively especially via the character of Joanna, a legal lobbyist drowning in her own obsessive work fuelled by an understandable but ultimately counter-productive hate.

It's a shame that the pressures of the psycho-thriller genre force important issues to be constrained and held back for shock value (that constant authorial need for the ubiquitous twist) rather than being explored in more psychological detail. This is certainly at the more emotionally weighty end of the crime spectrum but I'd love to see Clark-Platts break with the somewhat hokey genre tricks and free herself from the constraints to which she subjects herself.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC via NetGalley
Profile Image for Tracy Fenton.
947 reviews182 followers
December 1, 2018
The Flower Girls just didn’t work for me. Having read several other books with a similar theme, I was excited to read this book as the description and blurb was intriguing and interesting.

Unfortunately after the prologue which was, imo, enticing and uncomfortable the book then left me cold. I was unable to connect with any of the characters, which meant I stopped caring about who, why, when and how.

At just over halfway through my kindle told me I had 1 hour 30 left in the book, so I continued on hoping that something would change and I would feel differently. Unfortunately it didn’t and I finished the book feeling disappointed as I really was hoping this book would WOW me.

This is purely my opinion and having read other reviews since I finished the book, I’m sure it’s a case of “it’s not you.. it’s me”.
Profile Image for The Cats’ Mother.
2,123 reviews139 followers
January 22, 2019
This is a harrowing and thought provoking novel, presumably inspired by the notorious murder of two year old James Bulger by two young boys, in 1993. That was the year I finished uni and started work, so I was studying and then working all hours, and barely watched any TV, but even in those days before instant and 24 hour news, I remember the saturation coverage and the tabloids’ fascination with the killers, which continues to this day, so while the premise seems at first unbelievable, on reflection it is plausible and therefore all the more horrifying.

In 1997 on a summers day in a small English town, two young sisters abduct a toddler from a playground while her heavily pregnant mother chats with friends. The girl’s body is found, horrifically beaten and tortured, and 10 year old Laurel, and 6 year old Rosie, dubbed the Flower Girls by the media, are soon arrested for the crime, but only Laurel is convicted as Rosie is deemed too young to understand the consequences of her actions.

Twenty years later, Rosie, now known as Hazel, visits a seaside hotel with her boyfriend to celebrate her birthday and New Years Eve. When a 5 year old disappears, Hazel is terrified that her secret will be revealed and that she will be blamed for the crime, but a predatory ex-journalist, who scents a major story, persuades her to confess to the police, and all her fears come to pass. Meanwhile Laurel is half-heartedly making another attempt at parole, but having never admitted her guilt or expressed remorse, the victims family, and many of the public, are adamantly opposed to this.

Written by a human rights lawyer, with some believably awful characters and a compelling plot, this posed lots of questions and would make a great book club pick. How long should a guilty child be punished for? Can children be truly evil? Should the press have the right to stalk people never convicted of a crime? When should family members accept that all their campaigning will never bring their loved ones back, and move on with their lives? (The latter question being particularly pertinent in New Zealand.)

The writing was stunning, with lyrical turns of phrase and an amazing sense of place. Unfortunately it was spoiled for me by the bizarre misuse of capitals in the ARC I received, many being missing, especially at the start of sentences, meaning you often had to read them twice, but also turning acronyms into weird looking words, and then capitals turning up in the middle of other words. I had assumed this was accidental and a gremlin in the typeface software, which would be fixed before publication, but then at the end, specific mention was made of the font, making me question whether in fact this is deliberate. If this is something that would bother you, I suggest taking a peek inside before you buy, but no other reviewer has mentioned it so maybe it’s just mine?

The other reason for downgrading this to 3 stars is the ending, which other reviewers have complained about. The solution to the mystery is well sign-posted as the plot progresses, and flashbacks reveal progressively more about the girls’ past, but then a bizarre double twist is thrown in that makes little sense and leaves a slightly bad taste. It’s not that I necessarily need a happy ending, but I like a definite resolution and for some sense of right prevailing. 3.5 rounded down.

My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. The Flower Girls is published on 24th January 2019.
Profile Image for Danielle-Gemma💜.
163 reviews13 followers
July 16, 2021
A solid read, it did keep me entertained and turning pages but I didn’t go into a book trance and finished so quickly mainly due to having time to read rather than racing to the end!
The ending didn’t come as a surprise and the twist I thought would happen kind of petered out at the end!
Profile Image for The Nerd Daily.
720 reviews345 followers
August 24, 2019
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Tracy Truffles
Yes, the blurb for this novel is very vague and that’s because this story is so full of important factors that could lead to spoilers. It’s hard to explain the plot without giving too much away but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

The Flower Girls is based around a horrible crime where a toddler was tortured and killed by not just any person but suspected to be by two young girls, Laurel and Primrose. Laurel, being the eldest was convicted and sentenced to prison indefinitely and Primrose was given a new identity with her parents because she wasn’t old enough to be put on trial, and their case became infamous – basically viral with the press at the time. Everybody knows about the Flower Girls and it’s hard to forget such an unforgivable crime, a crime taken out by a child no less.

It’s been 19 years and Primrose, whose identity has now been Hazel since the scandal is at a hotel with her boyfriend to celebrate her birthday when coincidentally another toddler goes missing. Throughout the book, we’re introduced to many other characters that are equally as important as Hazel’s – multiple points of views and I would say they’re all protagonists.

We get taken through a detective’s view who is working in the investigation for finding this missing toddler, as well as the point of view of the murdered toddler’s aunt who has been fighting for justice for 19 years, to make sure Laurel stays behind bars. We’re also introduced to a writer who happens to be in the right place at the right time with hopes to make his big career break with this scandal brought back into the spotlight and the political and media drama that ensues.

"People judge when they don’t know any different, when they’re only given one story they can latch on to."

It’s so hard to explain how good this book was, the writing was phenomenal. Each chapter was relatively short and sweet, the writing was easy to read with great cohesion and as I read it, I slowly got more on the edge. You think you can guess what’s actually happened but really you can’t. The suspense is unreal and slowly unravelled, the blurb was absolutely right that you’ll never forget Flower Girls because this was undeniably genius.

What also struck a huge chord was that the mystery of finding the toddler and finding out the various truths I won’t mention (cause MAJOR spoilers) weren’t the biggest themes in this book at all. This novel explored even more, including the reality of how a crime like this could have happened, how the media lies and changes people and the importance of not necessarily forgiveness but letting go.

"There must be some happiness we can have, mustn’t there? Waiting for us in the future or even here now. Where we’re not always fighting."

Clark-Platts created these characters expertly and really dove deep into this contemporary world where the Flower Girls have created such an impact in history as one of the most horrific crimes. Each character was its own individual personality with vivid backstories and hooked you right in with how they all connected and surrounded the facts of the initial crime.

All the characters were real but also extremely unreliable. Until you get to the end of the book, you can’t trust them or really figure out who has done what and when. This unreliability in these third-person narrators is even more interesting because you’re not actually sure whether they have any credibility, whether they are untrustworthy or not until the end either. Meaning, the plot twists were seriously shocking and surprising, and irrevocably well planned.

This book changes you. Okay, it might not, but it was amazing. I bewildered many people because I couldn’t stop myself from yelling at this book while reading it, especially during those last 50 pages where the plot twists just kept coming.

This was a stunning and amazing book and is definitely one of my favourite books of all time in this genre. An unexpected surprise that this book would be as enjoyable as it was, and I would highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Bill Kupersmith.
Author 1 book201 followers
February 20, 2019
If you like delicious meals made from off-the-shelf ingredients, you should enjoy Alice Clark-Platts’ The Flower Girls. What happens after underage murderers are released has been the basis of numerous thrillers: my favourites of all are Alex Marwood’s The Wicked Girls and Elizabeth Little’s Dear Daughter. Here two decades ago two sisters, Laurel and Primrose (hence the title), aged 10 and 6, were charged with the torture killing of the little 2-year-old Kirstie. Laurel was tried and convicted, and at age 18 moved to an adult women’s prison, where she is still incarcerated. Primrose was too young to be held legally responsible. (That too was the basis of Andrew Taylor’s absolutely brilliant The Office of the Dead.) Primrose now has a new identity as Hazel, but whilst staying at a seaside hotel in Dorset with her fiancé and his daughter Evie, a little girl goes missing. Of course, we are not surprised at who becomes the number one suspect when Hazel’s real identity is found out by the police and the press.

Clark-Platts succeeds in giving a new twist to a familiar cast of characters: a police detective who most reluctantly becomes sympathetic to Hazel, a hack writer who sees in Hazel a bestseller, sister Laurel, embittered and still seeking parole from prison, represented by a broken-down solicitor who is her uncle, Kristie’s aunt, an avenging fury who wants to keep Laurel in prison for life (there is a similar blogger in Dear Daughter), and Hazel herself, grappling with the suppressed memories of what actually happened and her stormy relationship with her sister. (There is also a marvellously bitchy literary agent who all of us self-published authors will love to hate.)

Artistically it is not a perfect book. The present story of the missing child and the backstory run awkwardly and the twist that combines them will at least be speculatively foreseen by the experienced mystery story buff though hidden by a couple of really smelly red herrings. (Another Madeleine McCann knock-off, but an important clue will spring off the page in the reader’s face.) But the vividness of the principal characters will make this story impossible to put down. As Alice Clark-Platts is herself a human-rights lawyer, questions of justice, responsibility, and forgiveness arise, without any easy or obvious answers. (Personally, I think life without possibility of parole is worse than a death sentence, but given a criminal justice system where virtually all prosecutions are malicious, capital punishment is unconscionable as well. Yet the murder of a child is scarcely material for restorative justice.) Like The Wicked Girls, The Flower Girls features an example (two really) of generous self-sacrifice, but here the final twist indicates the beneficiaries scarcely deserved it. So I award four stars for literary quality, but five for moral and spiritual value. For those of us fascinated by conflicts between moral and legal responsibility, this is a splendid read.
Profile Image for Σκουλάς Αλκιβιάδης.
Author 4 books30 followers
November 29, 2021
ΚΑΛΗΣΠΕΡΑ και καλή εβδομάδα σε όλους/ες! 😇🙏📖

✍🏼 Το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο μου το σύστησαν πριν από λίγες ημέρες και δεν έχασα ευκαιρία να το προσθέσω στη λίστα μου. Είναι καλογραμμένο, ευκολοδιάβαστο, και πραγματεύεται ένα βαρύ κοινωνικό θέμα με φόντο ένα αποτρόπαιο έγκλημα. Η πλοκή της οικογενειακής αυτής υπόθεσης ρέει με γρήγορους ρυθμούς, τα μικρά του κεφάλαια διαδέχονται το ένα το άλλο με την αγωνία να κορυφώνεται. Ακόμα κι αν υποψιαστείτε πρόσωπα και καταστάσεις, το ανατρεπτικό ΦΙΝΑΛΕ κατ' εμέ, θα σας κόψει την ΑΝΑΣΑ!!! 👌😁🖤😜🤘
Displaying 1 - 30 of 767 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.