The Last Girl to Die
- Author: Helen Sarah Fields
- Genre: Mystery/Thriller
- Publication Date: September 1, 2022
- Publisher: Avon Books
Thank you to NetGalley and Avon Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: murder, sexual assault, gore, death of a minor, off-page death of a wild animal, torture, blood, misogyny, mention of domestic violence, violence, bullying
The island watched and wept…
In search of a new life, sixteen-year-old Adriana Clark’s family moves to the ancient, ocean-battered Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland. Then she goes missing. Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, her desperate parents turn to private investigator Sadie Levesque.
Sadie is the best at what she does. But when she finds Adriana’s body in a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, she knows she’s dealing with something she’s never encountered before.
The deeper she digs into the island’s secrets, the closer danger creeps – and the more urgent her quest to find the killer grows. Because what if Adriana is not the last girl to die?
I randomly stumbled upon Helen Fields books in my library a few years back, and have been hooked ever since. Each time I see one of her newer books pop up on NetGalley, it’s like a compulsion to request them, and I’m never sorry after reading them. Although they do make it difficult to sleep while I’m in the middle of reading them at times, and I NEVER learn my lesson, always starting them late at night.
While this was a standalone, there was one character that featured in the DI Callanach series, and I was so happy to see him again! It’s set on the remote Scottish Isle of Mull, portrayed as an insulated community that isn’t exactly welcoming to outsiders. This pertains not only to private investigator Sadie, but as she quickly discovers, also to the newly relocated Clark family.
Sadie realizes that the place force isn’t doing a very good job of searching for missing teen Adriana Clark. She’s hired by the Clark family to do a job, and it’s clear that she’s tough, focused, and not one to scare easily. However, she steps on more than a few toes right away, which doesn’t earn her any friends in a town that is already set against her. But the deeper she digs into the circumstances of Adriana’s death and the history of Mull, the further into danger she finds herself. And the more determined she becomes to solve the mysteries she encounters.
There’s an overall sense of tension throughout the book, but it continues building as the story goes on. Fields ratchets up the tension beautifully, especially towards the end, making this book impossible to put down. And while the plot twists were slow to appear in the beginning, they started appearing faster the further I read, surprising me from all sides. In addition, there were a few chapters told from the POV of the island itself, adding an unusual element of sinister sentience from something that we don’t usually even consider, but somehow it worked perfectly in this setting.
I loved the way that this story combined modern life with history and ancient lore in a setting that felt both modern and far removed from the present day, both at the same time. The overall tone is quite different from the other Fields books that I’ve read, but I loved it even more, if that’s possible, and it allowed me the time to connect to Sadie, even with her shortcomings, since it humanized her yet highlighted her strengths and her devotion to justice in her own way. This is an incredible story and showcases the immense talent that Fields has.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 11
Categories: Book Review