After a teenage girl, Jenny, is found brutally murdered, the police are convinced that the culprit is a man who was an obsessive fan of her work in beauty pageants. Something doesn’t sit right with her older half-sister, Virginia, however, and she undertakes on an investigation of her own. It soon becomes apparent that in a town where everyone seems to know everyone else, there are many people with secrets to hide, Jenny and Virginia included, and soon the suspect list rises. With numerous potential motives coming to light, just exactly who did kill Jenny?
Told from the perspectives of both Jenny and Virginia, we get an insight into the weeks and days leading up to the death of the teenager and also Virginia’s uncovering of what actually happened. I really enjoyed this writing technique, as it helped to create a slow burner of a story which had me constantly asking questions about what had occurred.
This is one of those books where the more you read, the more suspects you encounter, each one with their own motives for wanting Jenny out of the way. My opinions of Jenny changed throughout the book, as initially I felt a great deal of sympathy towards her as she found herself desperate to leave the beauty pageant world. This is a phenomenon that has never sat right with me and I found it interesting that the author addresses my concerns as part of the plot. Jenny undergoes a great transformation as the book progresses and, whilst I was horrified by some of her actions, I could see her need to rebel.
Virginia was a fascinating character, and I found her backstory a very tragic one. Despite the strained relationship she had with her family, the love for her half-sister was evident as she worked tirelessly to find who had killed Jenny. Like the murdered girl, she too had secrets she would prepare to remain hidden, these secrets surfacing and playing a major role in the killing. I enjoyed reading how something that happened a long time ago could create a ripple effect, creating a chain of events that ultimately led to the murder.
The Prized Girl is a very strong debut from Amy K Green, full of twists and turns that had me gripped right until the end.
With thanks to Sian Baldwin at HQ for my copy of The Prized Girl.