‘The beast had escaped and it was never going back in its cave now…’
I’m not sure why I’ve only just found this series?! But I am sooo glad that I did! I read this in 24 hours which is always a sign of a gripping read for me. It’s the sixth in a series but not having read the first five in no way detracted from the enjoyment of reading it. In fact I enjoyed picking up little clues about what may have happened previously and of course I now need to read all the others!
What the blurb says:
Dressed in a sage green bridesmaid dress, and smiling for pictures, Holly is the happiest she’s ever been. Hours later, Holly is dead.
People love to hate Holly Long. Smart, beautiful and a woman who men find it hard to say no to, she’s the town’s most gossiped about resident.
Now Holly’s body lies in her hotel room, strangled at her best friend’s wedding party. And the gossip has stopped, because nobody wants to look like they did it.
When police search Holly’s immaculate apartment, amongst her stylish furnishings and expensive jewellery, they discover a different side to Holly. Orderly and precise, she wasn’t the chaotic party girl everyone thought her to be. In fact, Holly was a planner, and her next plan was to come out and tell her biggest secret – something she had been hiding for months, something that had the potential to ruin the lives of more than one wedding guest.
There are plenty of people who might have wanted to kill Holly, but only one who has finally made good on their promise.
The story starts before the wedding mentioned in the blurb when we see Holly at home preparing a meal for her partner. Straight away there are suggestions that this relationship may not be entirely healthy but Holly comes across as ultimately strong-willed and in charge of her own destiny. It’s at this point, right at the start of the book that we find out The Secret, which I won’t reveal here…
Fast forward a little and Holly is a bridesmaid at one of her best friend’s weddings. Holly, Kerry, Fran and Lilly have been friends since school – they are The Awesome Foursome – and so of course when Kerry marries Edward, the other three girls are all her bridesmaids. All is going swimmingly, until shockingly, Holly’s body is found the morning after the party in her hotel room.
Meet Detective Gina Harte. Gina has a grown-up daughter, Hannah; a granddaughter, Gracie and a little black cat called Ebony. Harte has taken some leave from work to spend time with her family who have come to stay with her. But when 25 year old Holly Long’s body is found, her leave is cancelled. This causes huge tension and resentment between Harte and Hannah – a tension which appears to have been there for years.
Holly’s body has been posed with her hands on her middle and flower petals sprinkled over her. During the post-mortem, the head of a carnation is found in her throat. What does it mean? What is the killer trying to communicate? Carnations crop up all over the story and I thought I was really cleverly putting the clues together, but I have to say I was spectacularly wrong in my predictions!
Holly’s present day story is interwoven with snippets from the lives of other characters. The most memorable for a whole host of reasons is that of Cass. Cass was Kerry’s childhood best friend until Holly came along. She has felt usurped for years, and coupled with intense confidence and body image issues, heightened by a failing relationship with her boyfriend, her sections of the story are a really uncomfortable read: ‘She hated herself and all she’d become’. Now that Holly is dead, ‘The best friend place in Kerry’s life was vacant and Cass had to take it back’. Could she have been involved?
Dark secrets abound in this book. Holly’s murder triggers memories for Gina that she would rather keep buried. Issues with her own marriage, now long behind her, are hinted at and later, given more detail. DCI Briggs not only works with Harte, but we find out that, ‘Once her lover, now he was the keeper of her deepest, darkest secret’. We do eventually find out this secret, but it is one of the aspects to the story that made me want to read the earlier books.
Before Harte and her team can get a handle on the case, another of the Awesome Foursome is found dead in her bathtub. ‘Two out of three bridesmaids was a bit too much of a coincidence.’ Can they solve the case before Lilly’s life is threatened?
I had a great time with this book and have now bought the first two in the series so that I can immerse myself in Gina’s earlier life! Highly recommended!
I would like to thank both Net Galley and Bookouture for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.