Friday, February 17, 2023

The Last Girl To Die by Helen Fields


I was so excited when I found this book because I've lived in Scotland and the Hebrides are beautiful. The sample looked great-- I'm a sucker for mysteries with private detectives. My mother read the book first and at first things were going well and then she groaned and said NENIA. THAT BOOK YOU GAVE ME WAS STUPID. And I was like, "The mystery one??" And she was like, "YES. THE ENDING. I HATED THE ENDING. BUT MAYBE YOU'LL LIKE IT." And I was like, thanks mom. And she was like, "WE'LL TALK ABOUT IT. BUT YOU NEED TO READ IT."

For context, my mom is an incredibly picky and elitist reader, who won't read any romance unless it's by Jane Austen, and thinks mysteries are only worthwhile if they're published in Europe or former British commonwealths, so that's what we're working with. Meanwhile, there's me, the literary garbage disposal, who consumes anything, no matter how trashy, as long as it's entertaining. I thought she was being her snooty self and dove right in, thinking, "I'LL SHOW HER."


At first the book is really good. The heroine is a Canadian citizen who's on the Isle of Mull to help some American expats try to find out who killed their teen daughter, who was found dead in a cave, with sand shoved down her throat and a shell where the sun don't shine. There's beautiful descriptions of the Scottish seaside and a sinister betrayal of how people in small towns sometimes close ranks when tragedy happens, and even a few hints that maybe something culty is going on. But the book started to get kind of annoying. The heroine becomes a little not like other girls, assuring us that even though she looks like a pretty blonde cheerleader, she's smart and fit and doesn't see the need for false eyelashes. I found myself rolling my eyes a little, especially when she made stupid mistakes.

As soon as my mom realized I wasn't enjoying this book, she got gleeful. "Did the stupid woman get trapped in the basement yet?" she asked. "Did you get to the part narrated by the island?" Eventually I got so annoyed with the book that I asked her to spoil the ending for me and she didn't want to, because she was mad I made her buy a copy of this for 99 cents and wanted me to suffer like she did. When she finally told me the ending, I didn't believe her and had to see it for myself: The killer is someone who makes literally zero sense AND THE HEROINE DIES AT THE END. The island-- yes, the actual island-- narrates her death, and then the heroine becomes an omniscient ghost who is telling us what happens to her body and how sad everyone is that she's gone now. The fucking end.

I don't give out many one star reviews anymore but this ending beggared belief. My ideal ending would have been having the murder staged by the sketch reporter dude because that first killing was how he made a name for himself and maybe he wanted to get a book deal so he copycatted the original murder to jumpstart his career. The heroine finds out and narcs him out, and then she gets married to the cute forensic dude who was totally flirting with her.

But Ms. Should I Lick This Strange Powder I Found in This Shoe got herself killed and made ghost besties with the island ghosts instead.

The end.

1 out of 5 stars

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