Nicola Morgan kills at the drop of a hat. You have your spunky – if slightly naïve – heroine Matilda, who has just gone to pick strawberries (as a summer job; not for dessert), and she’s surrounded by old friends, and a couple of new ones. Fine, you think, she’s not alone.
And then Nicola kills. Swiftly. Just like that. And because you are already realising, well before Matilda does, that she has ended up very close to being in the grips of a cult, you don’t want her to be alone. You want her to possess more common sense. To be cautious. Or at least careful.
As if! Matilda is 18 and finally away from home. She couldn’t wait to be somewhere free and wonderful.
The people who run the fruit farm are so beautiful, and so charming and very friendly. (Personally I’d have felt the Jesus lookalike would be a dead giveaway, but there you go…)
This is interspersed with the story of an old woman visiting a man in jail 25 years later. He’s a charming conman, and he’s got his sights set on this gullible woman’s wealth and loneliness.
We can work out who he must be. We aren’t sure of her, nor of what has happened. Or if she can withstand his charm offensive.
Passionflowers play a great part in all this. I knew nothing about them before, and I can’t say they have inspired me with confidence. Creepy.
Not surprisingly, this is Nicola’s favourite book. Scary, but more-ish. The reader is forever shouting the equivalent of ‘he’s behind you!’ to Matilda. And she seems to be deaf. She wants to be loved and liked. Don’t we all?