Review – Flowers For The Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite

By | November 3, 2015


Adam Bourne is a serial killer who thinks he is a saviour. When he murders his victims and cuts off the women’s lips, he believes he has done it to make them happy. How did he become warped from the sensitive four-year-old who adored his gran and the fairy tales she read to him? What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends? 

When he meets Laura Weir, Adam weaves a fairy tale romance around them. A tale she has no idea she is part of. As he hatches his twisted plan for their fairy story ending, can anyone stop him before he creates the ultimate sacrifice to love?

When you decide to help promote an author – without reading her books, but enjoying chats on social media and intrigued by the book synopses – you’re always taking a little bit of a risk. I had the pleasure of interviewing Barbara Copperthwaite back in September – here’s the link – and I was really intrigued by her story about the forgotten purchase of a pint of milk, and how it triggered the storyline of her latest thriller, Flowers For The Dead. Well, I’ve now read it – and I’m delighted to report that my instincts didn’t fail me. I thought it was simply wonderful. 

There’s a small number of books that – in my eyes – set the standard for what I expect when I read a thriller. Definitely Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. Most certainly Nearest Thing To Crazy by Elisabeth Forbes. Her by Harriet Lane and Paula Daly’s Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? maybe? But Barbara Copperthwaite’s Flowers For The Dead more than deserves to be included in that company – I found it mesmerising, terrifying, intriguing, very unsettling, totally compulsive and a fantastic read.

That blurb tells you the story, but it really doesn’t wholly prepare you for Adam. He’s a monster – but one of the most attractive and likeable monsters I’ve ever encountered. You share his thoughts, you know what made him what he is, you know what he plans to do – but you can’t help being on his side. There’s a real discomfort in that, but it’s quite perfectly handled. 

You can’t help but love Laura too – the latest object of his affection. Her horrific background, her attempts to live her life, her suspicions that something strange is happening, her embarrassing visits to the police station,her adventures with cameras – you identify with her totally, but know far more than she does about what’s actually going on. It’s a really difficult one – you’re strangely rooting for Adam, but that inevitably means the worst outcome for Laura. You find yourself questioning where your sympathies really lie. I never did entirely resolve it, and I loved every uncomfortable moment. 

This book is so cleverly constructed – the reader is the only one who knows and understands what made Adam who it is, and the background is woven into the story quite seamlessly, and without any impact on its relentless pace. Barbara Copperthwaite writes quite beautifully – the words flow easily and the pages turn, and she makes the chilling and dark, the absurd and horrific into easy reading. That’s quite a skill – and one that really makes me really want to read more. I have Invisible on my Kindle already – and I’ll be first in the queue for whatever she writes next. Yes, I’m going to say it – this is, without a moment’s hesitation, one of my books of the year.

My thanks to the author for my kindle reading copy. The kindle edition is available for just 99p for another two days (check before clicking) – don’t miss this one, whatever you do.

The complexity of the humans behind crime, from the perpetrator to the victim and beyond, are what intrigue Barbara Copperthwaite. She was raised by the sea and in the countryside, where she became a lover of both the written word and the great outdoors. A journalist with twenty years’ experience, who has been editor of a number of national magazines in the UK, her fascination with crime really began during a brief spell working in a men’s prison in her early twenties. When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs. 

To find out more about Barbara and her books, do visit her website: she also has a Facebook author page, and you can follow her on Twitter.

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