REVIEWED BY LISA WARD
As teenagers, Poppy Carlisle and Serena Gorrienge both fell in love, with Marcus. Marcus was Serena’s teacher. He was charming and good-looking, but he had a darker more sadistic side, which only revealed itself once they were both smitten. The girls were not friends. In fact they never knew each other until Marcus introduced them. They were fifteen and found themselves completely and utterly head over heels in love with Marcus, who bullied, manipulated and controlled them, until one night they had enough, and fought back. The consequences were devastating.
The only witnesses to the tragic event, the seemingly glamorous girls were arrested, charged and tried. They were vilified in the press. A photograph of the girls, which was taken and staged by Marcus, where they were wearing tiny bikinis and eating ice cream, found its way into the papers and they were given the cruel nickname ‘The Ice Cream Girls’. Following the trial, their lives took very different paths. Poppy was convicted of murder and sent to prison, and Serena was found ‘not guilty’ and released to live her life.
Years later, following her release, Poppy wishes to find out the truth about what really happened that night, but Serena wants the past to remain firmly in the past. As if her past is revealed, it will have a devastating effect on her present.
The story is written from two perspectives, Poppy and Serena’s and takes you on a journey through their lives – both past and present. The book did throw up some questions about their defence and Poppy’s subsequent conviction. Admittedly, I did find it hard to believe that Poppy would have been convicted of murder and Serena would have been found not guilty. Maybe it is the lawyer in me that has all these questions. Why were the hospital admissions not looked into? Why were the neighbours not questioned about seeing the girls arrive regularly at Marcus’ house? Why did the girls’ families let them explain away the bruises and broken bones? Why were Marcus’ previous victims not called to the witness stand? I mean, they did write to Serena. Why was his ex wife not called as a witness? I know that the main focus of the book was not the trial, but the outcome of the trial showed some serious flaws.
But, and this is a big but, despite my nagging questions, (which only really reared their ugly heads once I had finished the book and was discussing it with a friend), I thoroughly enjoyed it. It draws you in from the beginning and leaves you desperate to know what happened that fateful night. (Although, I had figured that part out pretty early on)! This is a beautifully written novel, which is part crime, part romance and part thriller. It is not supposed to be a crime novel, which is why the trial is only touched upon. The author successfully paints a chilling picture of lost childhood, manipulation, brutality and betrayal. It is laden with tension and you are hooked from the start.
As I really enjoyed reading this book, I give it 8/10.