Book Review – The Flower Girl Murder

My fellow readers! I kindly request you to clear your schedules and allow your electronic babysitter, television, to watch the children ( don’t feel guilty about it). With that said, have I got a treat for you.  The Flower Girl Murder written by Keith Hirshland is a fast-moving, crime thriller set against a North Carolina landscape. The story follows the trail of Raleigh detective, Marc Allen, who is investigating the senseless murder of Daisy Burns. Daisy Burns was a wife, a mother and an honourable member of the community – with zero enemies. Who could possibly want her killed? Teaming up with veteran news reporter, Lancaster Heart, the murder case is broadcasted across the region in hopes that at least one fellow citizen will come forward with vital information. During the investigation, a social worker by the name of Blanche Avery immediately recognises the circulating photograph of Daisy Burns. She also remembers the baby Daisy gave up for adoption, the now promising young lawyer Teri Hickox. Suddenly, events take a dramatic turn when the body of Tanner Goochly Jr, a member of an infamous crime family, is discovered. As he delves deeper into both investigations, Allen races against the clock desperately trying to connect the dots. What – or who – is the common denominator between the two murders? Has Allen got what it takes to solve the case before the murderer attacks again?

I have so much praise to give this book, so forgive me if I ramble on too much. First of all, let’s start with the length of the chapters. The short, choppy chapters really help to increase the pace of the story. There is an almost cinematic feel to the book, as you cross-cut from scene to scene. I did wonder whether this style of writing was inspired by the author’s background in television production. From a psychological aspect, for our non-readers out there, it gives you the illusion that the story is moving along faster, therefore, giving you the impression that you are making progress with the book. For our more seasoned readers, there may be a worrying concern that shorter chapters equals less substance. However, you don’t have to worry, because every single chapter balances the three elements of fiction: dialogue, action and narrative. As you turn the pages, you will discover more about the storyline, the location and the characters. Speaking of the characters, they are fully-fleshed, complex and realistically portrayed. Each character comes with his/her own set of quirks. For example, Brodie has her little remixes on traditional idioms ( a leopard doesn’t change its stripes). I always get a little nervous before reading a new book, worried about the characters I will meet. Will I like them? Will I hate them? Will they bore me to tears? But each and every single character in this book delivered! I even enjoyed learning about the more minor characters. The tale of chef Boogie was a very interesting one indeed. Furthermore, the dialogue is sharp, well-balanced and very authentic. If you love wit and sarcasm, there’s plenty of that instore for you. Also, I must compliment the author on how the background stories of the characters connected very well with the overall plot. For instance, the tale of Daisy Burns giving up her child for adoption contrasts with Nick Avery’s tale of not being able to conceive a child with his late wife, Melody. Additionally, The Flower Girl Murder  touches upon a variety of real-life themes, such as love, marriage, death and neglect. Reality is certainly mixed with a liberal amount of fiction. Also, as you follow the investigation along, you get a true sense of the inner workings of the police force e.g. the ranking system, weapons, terminology. You will certainly learn a great deal about the mindset of somebody who works within the force. To illustrate, there is a spectacular passage at the beginning of chapter forty-seven. It describes how Marc Allen used to enjoy watching citizens, imagining the comfort and innocence of their routines. But after a decade, he now watches them with a degree of disturbance, wondering what crimes they are about to commit.

Moving onto my two tiny dislikes. I was slightly underwhelmed with the lack of character descriptions. For example, I spent the majority of the book imagining Marc Allen as a tall, dark and ruggedly handsome type with a headful of hair – is it getting hot in here? And it wasn’t until chapter forty-nine that I found out, thanks to Teri’s quick mouth, that he is actually bald – no offence to bald guys! You are handsome too! I understand that character descriptions are not totally crucial, but I feel their physical features are important because they tell us more about who they are. As well, not to give too much away, but I felt the ending was a little bit too rushed. However, I will applaud the author for leaving it open to interpretation – that was a nice touch! Overall, the book is wonderfully written, with no grammatical errors to report. 

I would highly recommend this book to readers who are fans of gripping page-turners. But although this book is the very definition of a crime thriller, the tender moments between Lancaster and Brodie ( even Marc and Denise) make it especially moving for hopeless romantics like myself. It’s not all blood and guts. As I mentioned at the start of this review, the book touches upon a range of themes, so there is something for everybody.

In conclusion, author Keith Hirshland receives a 4 out of 4 stars rating from me. I wish I could award this book five stars instead! It has everything you could possibly want in a thriller: atmosphere, tension and heart-racing adrenaline which seems to pulsate through every single page. While the plot is certainly captivating, it’s the well-developed cast of characters that make it truly something special. 

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