The Last Girl to Die, by Helen Sarah Fields

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Helen Sarah Fields, andAvon Books UK for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always a fan of Helen Sarah Fields, I was eager to get my hands on this book. Fields has developed a masterful police procedural series set in Scotland, but this is one of her equally powerful standalone novels. Fields uses her knowledge of the Scottish countryside, love of mysteries, and ability to cobble together a great procedural novel to provide the reader with something entertaining and highly addictive in equal measure. Not to be missed by those who love a ‘wee great mystery’!

Adriana Clark had been missing for days; eleven to be exact. While the police did not seem to be taking much of an interest, her family decided to hire a private investigator to uncover the truth. Enter Sadie Levesque, who arrived on a small Scottish island off the coast with little to go on but her instincts. However, it was enough to spark a fire in her belly.

While wandering around the island, Sadie could not help but wonder if there was a reason for the lack of police interest. She also had to wonder if her being a foreigner—from Banff, in the Canadian Rockies—could be playing into the cold reception she received. All that changed when Sadie found Adriana’s body in a cave, penetrated with a shell and mouth filled with sand. The authorities took note, but even then it was an investigation they had no interest in sharing with Sadie.

Not wanting to let up, Sadie continued probing in the murder, only to discover that there were those who preferred the bucolic nature of the island to remain that way, hushing up any waves. After the discovery of another teenage girl, Sadie was sure that this could not be a coincidence and began looking at the possibility of a serial killer.

With one suspect catching her eye, Sadie started uncover the truth, only to realise that she was in way over her head. As the story progressed, truths Sadie could not have expected came to light, only to provide more concern for everyone’s safety. Sadie would have to act quickly to ensure there were no more bodies piling up off the Scottish coast, or at least point the authorities in the right direction. Fields does a wonderful job with this piece, sure to appeal to many who have a love for police procedurals.

I have long enjoyed how Helen Sarah Fields weaves her stories together, using local lore and idioms to keep the reader feeling as though they are in Scotland on a man (or woman) hunt. While her series work is my favourite, I can also enjoy her standalone novels, as they do not lack any of the action, narrative strength or quirky humour. There is much to be said for the versatility of Fields and her fans are sure to see that they need not worry whenever she publishes something new.

Fields make sure to get the story moving from the opening pages, This narrative technique is sure to grasp the reader from the outset and keep them glued to the story until the final pages, which is especially important with this novel. Strong characters and a plot that never seems to stay still help the shape this story as well, keeping the reader on their toes throughout the journey. I felt as though I were in Scotland from the opening paragraphs, as Fields is able to imbue such a strong sense of setting throughout the novel. If I had one point of contention, it would be that Sadie Levesque, a Canadian from my neck of the woods, speaks and narrates with obvious Scottish idioms, which appeared out of place. Perhaps it is my Canadianness that led me to say ‘we don’t say it like that’, but it is worth noting, even if it might be a minor point. Overall, one cannot fault Fields for a stellar piece of work and I am eager to see what else she has on the horizon.

Kudos, Madam Fields, for another great standalone thriller. Keep them coming, as you have a great fan in me!