Crime Mystery

Dead Flowers – Nicola Monaghan

8 September 2019
Dead Flowers Book Cover Dead Flowers
Nicola Monaghan
Crime Mystery
Verve Books
5 September 2019

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


Dead Flowers is an accomplished crime mystery with a central character that sets a unique course for a plot and disturbing family secrets. The story is told in two alternating time threads between the early 1970s and 2017 and the attention to historic detail in the settings is very well captured.

Dr Sian Love is a forensic scientist, having previously worked as a DCI with the Nottingham police, which she resigned from due to sexism, racism and corruption. Sian, along with her retired police cadaver dog, Elvis, has just moved into the Loggerheads Pub which she inherited from her Uncle Rob. It doesn’t take long before Elvis has zoned in on something suspicious behind a wall in the cellar. After tearing open a hidden door, Sian, find the remains of two dead bodies which have been sealed up for over four decades. Against Sian’s frustration, her partner DI Kris Payne, calls the discovery into the local police, which in itself opens up issues for Sian having to deal with Detective Superintendent Dominic Wilkinson as he leads the investigation and whom Sian holds responsible for the treatment she received while she worked in the force.

Sian doesn’t have faith in the police force’s integrity and is determined to ensure that her uncle Rob is not held responsible for the murders of the two victims. This causes friction from all sides and it becomes particularly acute with personal and family ties being stretched, twisted and broken. Her relationship with Kris is also put under pressure as she struggles with trust and commitment issues.

While the police investigation, and Sian’s own dangerous research, occupies one-time thread, we are taken on an enthralling journey with a number of fascinating characters from 1970 through to 1971. The relationships, plans and ambitions of the group are not always held equally valuable and the tensions are wonderfully developed. We can only but guess that two of them are the bodies found forty-six years later, but this mulita-layered plot will keep surprises and the suspense taut until the end.

Within many of the scenes the accompaniment of musical references, filter through on the edges – a song played on a jukebox, the backdrop of a pop group, or the title of the chapters identifying various pop songs from 1971, for example All I Have to Do Is Dream or Can’t Help Falling In Love. Oh, I could go on! Great idea for feeding an atmosphere, and with a particular fondness for Elvis. If Nicola Monaghan states she doesn’t like Elvis Presley, I’ll be shocked.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the little nostalgic glimpses back in time, which for the cast of characters held engrossing actions and secrets with deadly consequences. Sian doggedly unravels the past exposing herself to a danger that will resurface the more she digs. The characters carry this story and how they interact with their own hopes and desires is brilliantly told.

I would highly recommend reading this book and I’d like to thank Verve Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC version in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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