After a year off from both reading and writing (thank you MS!) I thought that this blog tour was the perfect first review. I am already familiar with Leslie Thompson’s work so I was very excited to get my hands on The Playground Murders.
Forty years ago, in the dark of the playground, two children’s lives were changed for ever.
Stella Darnell is a cleaner. But when she isn’t tackling dust and dirt and restoring order to chaos, Stella solves murders. Her latest case concerns a man convicted of killing his mistress. His daughter thinks he’s innocent, and needs Stella to prove it.
As Stella sifts through piles of evidence and interview suspects, she discovers a link between the recent murder and a famous case from forty years ago: the shocking death of six-year-old Sarah Ferris, killed in the shadows of an empty playground.
Stella knows that dredging up the past can be dangerous. But as she pieces together the tragedy of what happened to Sarah, she is drawn into a story of jealousy, betrayal and the end of innocence. A story that has not yet reached its end…
As I sit here, drinking my Ovaltine, I am thinking back over The Playground Murders and I have to say I am in love. When I accepted this book for review I had actually thought that I had read others in the Detectives Daughter series, however, I learned this was not the case. The Playground Murders is book 7 however it is entirely possible to read as a standalone. Take a little time to get to know the main players, it will be worth it.
We learn that in the 80s two children died in the playground but fast forward to the present day and this time a woman has been murdered. Is there a possibility that these two cases might be related? Stella Darnell seems to think so.
The story takes place over these two time periods, the death of the children being investigated by Stella’s father and present day with Stella doing the investigating. The transitions are flawless. In the past, I have read books where their transition between the time periods trip me up as it is unclear what is going on but not here.
The relationships between the characters are written in such a manner that I actually felt they were friends of mine. The antagonist I had great disdain for, although part of me couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. As the story evolves and unfurls we discover so much about her, she is manipulative and deceptive yet keeps trying to get Stella on her side. Why is she being like this? Is Stella being sucked in by her? Her father might just have been, even if it were briefly.
We see Stella and Jack’s relationship grow although there is a point when it is almost as if the oxygen has been cut off. Trust is very important, especially when it comes to a murderer, but when that trust has been betrayed it can be most difficult to recover.
I very much had a feeling of fight or flight at times and was willing the characters to do what I saw as best, sometimes they listened but other times they surprised me. I remember clearly a “No way!” moment where I pulled my legs up to my chest and was nearly nose to book trying to see what was going on, I wanted to be right there in that moment..even if I was scared.
This is most certainly a 5/5 book for me and I will be starting over from the start of the series. Leslie Thompson has hit it out of the park, without a doubt!
Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People’s Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective’s Daughter, was a number 1 bestseller and sold over 500,000 copies.