The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

A series of murders in a resort town lead to the unexpected reunion of two women who have been sentenced never to see each other again after they murdered a child when they were only 11.

Heavenly Creatures is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I was keen to read The Wicked Girls after reading it compared with Peter Jackson’s thriller about two preteen girls who commit an unspeakable murder.

The structure of The Wicked Girls is quite cleverly executed. In the present day, Amber, a manager at a seaside amusement park, discovers a dead body in the hall of mirrors. One of the stringers assigned to the case, Kirsty, recognizes her as the one person in the world whom she’s forbidden by law from ever seeing again. Disjointed flashbacks gradually reveal the story of the awful day when Kirsty and Amber murdered a 4-year-old girl, presumably in cold blood. Despite the legal injunction, Kirsty and Amber have one meeting, and what they learn about each other’s lives changes the trajectory of their own, with tragic ramifications.

The murder mystery is just as compelling as the psychological drama. While the identity of the murderer isn’t exactly hidden from the reader, the reasons, when revealed, are devastatingly creepy and perfect.

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