I’m thrilled to be closing out the blog tour for crime novel, Dead Flowers by Nicola Monaghan. My thanks to Clare at Verve Books for inviting me to join the tour and for my digital review copy. I hope you’ve been enjoying the extracts, guest posts and reviews by the other book bloggers taking part in the tour.
About the Book
She doesn’t trust the police. She used to be one of them.
Hardened by ten years on the murder squad, DNA analyst Doctor Sian Love has seen it all. So when she finds human remains in the basement of her new home, she knows the drill. Except this time it’s different. This time, it’s personal…
A page-turning cold case investigation, Dead Flowers is an intriguing, multi-layered story perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories and British crime dramas like Line of Duty and Unforgotten. Shortlisted for the UEA Crime Fiction Award 2019.
Praise for Dead Flowers and Nicola Monaghan
- ‘Monaghan’s convincing characters swing unpredictably between terrifying and tender, and the often violent encounters usually have a bleakly funny edge’ – Independent (London)
- ‘Monaghan’s novel is direct and deceptively simple. In spite of suffering there are surprising touches of humour and tenderness that bloom like flowers on asphalt ‘- Times
- ‘A gripping, mile-a-minute British debut. Enthralling’ – Kirkus Reviews
- ‘Monaghan’s is a powerful, loving, and honest new voice’ – A. L. Kennedy, author of Paradise and So I Am Glad
Format: ebook (271 pp.) Publisher: Verve Books
Publication date: 5th September 2019 Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Find Dead Flowers on Goodreads
Like the author’s debut novel The Killing Jar, Dead Flowers is set in Nottingham, predominantly in a pub called the Loggerheads. The realistic detail about locations in the city and its environs, and the use of local dialect and figures of speech give the book a real sense of place. Alternating between events in the 1970s and the present day, the discovery of human remains in the cellar of the pub that ex-police officer and DNA expert, Sian Love, has inherited from her uncle, is the starting point for a story of family secrets, betrayal and revenge.
I’ll confess I didn’t immediately fall in love (pardon the pun) with Sian as a character. I found her rather prickly, stubbornly independent and unduly dismissive of others’ abilities, especially her former colleagues. However, I found my opinion changing as the book progressed and the reader learns more about her past. What’s not in doubt is her technical capability as a DNA profiler. (Incidentally, there’s some fascinating and clearly well-researched detail about the process). Ironically, it’s Sian’s knowledge of DNA which leads her to the inescapable truth that not everything she thought she knew about her own personal history can be relied upon.
There are some distinctly unpleasant male characters in the book, both in the past and present timelines. The exceptions are the long-suffering Kris, Sian’s brother Tom and her dog, Elvis. Although, arguably, the latter is responsible for setting in motion a chain of events that will have repercussions for his mistress.
The author creates some tense scenes, including one very spooky episode which you’ll no doubt recognize if you read the book. There are also some quirky touches like the use of song titles as chapter headings for the scenes set in the past. I’m not sure I could work out if they were designed to have any particular relevance to events described but they certainly helped ground the narrative in the period (for those of us old enough to remember it).
Dead Flowers demonstrates the author’s ability to handle a complex plot and dual timeline with assurance. The reader will want to keep their eyes open for clues – or are they just red herrings cleverly intended to wrong foot? There’s plenty to keep the reader guessing right up until the final reveal making Nicola Monaghan an author for crime fiction fans to look out for in future. And just maybe this isn’t the last case Dr. Sian Love will be involved in?
In three words: Gritty, assured, compelling
Try something similar: Dark Sky Island (Jennifer Dorey Mystery #2) by Lara Dearman (read my review here)
About the Author
Nicola Monaghan has lived and worked in London, Paris, Chicago and New York but
returned to her home town of Nottingham in 2002 to pursue a masters in Creative Writing. She graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2004 with a distinction, and went on to write her first novel, The Killing Jar, set on the council estate where she lived as a child. This debut novel was highly critically acclaimed, and won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Prize and the Waverton Good Read. She has written several other novels, novellas and a collection of short stories. She also teaches Creative Writing at De Montfort University, and online at YouTube, Udemy and Skillshare