Book Review of ‘The Last Girl to Die’ by Helen Fields

The picture is the cover of The Last Girl to Die by Helen Fields

Private investigator Sadie Levesque specialises in finding missing teenagers, and so when sixteen-year-old Adrianna Clark goes missing on the Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland, Sadie is brought in by the family to find their daughter. Sadie is good at what she does, having spent years honing in her skills of tracking teeagers through social media and by befriending those closest to them. But this time, she is too late. Adriana is found dead in a cliffside cave with a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head. The death is ritualistic and deeply entwined in the island’s folklore and mythology, and unfortunately, it is unlikely that Adriana will be the last girl to die.

Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, Sadie finds that many of her usual tricks simply don’t work in tracking down Adriana’s killer. Almost as though the island itself is covering up something darker than a mere human, Sadie must overcome dangers caused by both the islanders and the environment in order to get closer to the truth.

The wildness and ‘otherness’ of the remote Scottish island was evoked really clearly in this novel and I sensed that Helen Fields has first-hand experience of the environment that she has presented here, treating it with a respect and almost awe at times. I did feel a little sorry for the people of Mull and sincerely hope that they don’t mind being depicted as rather a strange bunch, although Fields does include an afterword in which she stresses the fictional nature of the island’s inhabitants.

I found the protagonist to be rather incompetent at times, despite specialising in this line of work, and it was rather frustrating when she frequently put herself in preventable dangerous situations. I’m not sure that this hindered my enjoyment of the novel though and may have contributed to her being a little more believable in some ways. Despite this, however, I did enjoy the narrative, finding it to be pacey with plenty of twists and red herrings to keep me guessing who the murderer might be. The novel comes to a conclusion that I was really not expecting, and I always like to read something new in a genre that can be rather formulaic at times.

I listened to the audiobook of this novel and both Jaimi Barbakoff and Robin Laing presented the story brilliantly.

Thank you to NetGalley UK, Harper Collins UK audio, and Helen Fields for this ARC in return for my honest review.

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