Ghost Girl by Lesley Thomson

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Ghost Girl by Lesley Thomson

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An unexpected sequel. Thomson reaches back into the past to give us an intricate plot with plenty of twists and red herrings.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: April 2014
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 978-1781857670

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We first met Stella Darnell in The Detective's Daughter - a book which seemed to take everyone by surprise. I didn't expect to meet her again but a year after her father's death Stella hasn't moved on. She's still visiting his house regularly and cleaning it as though he could return any day. Cleaning is what she does best - and she runs her own cleaning company. Her father was Terry Darnell, Detective Chief Superintendent at Hammersmith police station and there's a folder of photographs in his darkroom. They're all unlabeled and they're of deserted streets. Is a crime involved - and why are the photographs at Terry's home?

It's 2012, but the earliest of the photographs dates back to 1966. Those of us who were around at the time will remember it as the year when Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were convicted of the Moors murders. On the day that they were sent to prison for life ten year old Mary Thornton was involved in an accident which would haunt her for the rest of her life. But I'm jumping ahead - Stella has a lot of work to do to find out even the bare bones of what Terry was investigating.

If you've read Lesley Thomson's first novel you'll be familiar with some of the people who surround her. Her mother - divorced from Terry for many years - is as difficult as ever, but she still has the support of Jackie Makepeace in running Clean Slate Cleaning Services. Jackie's a rock - and she has quite a bit to put up with from Stella, who takes her eye off the company. Jack Harman - tube train driver by profession but cleaner by inclination - had promised Stella that he would give up some of his more unusual and unorthodox ways of gaining entrance to people's houses, but old habits die hard.

I've come to the conclusion that you need to work at Thomson's books in the early stages or they're unrewarding. Characters pile in like the ravening hordes and you need to get a grip on who they are. I found it more difficult than I did with The Detective's Daughter, perhaps because the plot involves a series of road traffic accidents over a period of more than forty years. I was impressed though by the way that Thomson can ramp up tension - on a couple of occasions I felt distinctly edgy after I put the book down and I had to remind myself that it was only a story, albeit one with plenty of twists and red herrings.

Unusually for a book from a reputable publisher there were several proofing errors in the hardback which should have been picked up before publication. Hopefully they'll be corrected in the next edition. I'd still like to thank the publisher for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

It would be possible to read this book as a standalone, but I think you'll enjoy it more if you read The Detective's Daughter first. If you've already read that book then you might appreciate The Madness of July by James Naughtie.

Lesley Thomson's The Detective's Daughter Novels in Chronological Order

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