by Nicola Monaghan
She doesn’t trust the police. She used to be one of them.
Hardened by ten years on the murder squad, DNA analyst Doctor Sian Love has seen it all. So when she finds human remains in the basement of her new home, she knows the drill.
Except this time it’s different. This time, it’s personal...
A page-turning cold case investigation, Dead Flowers is an intriguing, multi-layered story perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories and British crime dramas like Line of Duty and Unforgotten.
Shortlisted for the UEA Crime Fiction Award 2019
Dead Flowers is a true Nottingham novel. Written by a Nottingham author and set entirely in the city, Dead Flowers opens with a nod to Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. What follows is a gripping dual narrative, featuring a busy Loggerheads of the late 1960s/early ‘70s and its 2017 neglected version. Living in The Loggerheads pub in the old Narrow Marsh area of Nottingham is former detective now forensic analyst Doctor Sian Love, a 46-year-old who takes matters into her own hands after finding human remains in the pub’s basement. In the book, The Loggerheads ownership passes through key characters.
Cliff Road in the Narrow Marsh had always fascinated Monaghan with its “strange position right at the bottom of a cliff” and she brings to life her two fictionalised versions of the street. The author's Loggerheads of fifty years ago is a vibrant place populated with working class characters, all flirting, fighting and having fun, while its modern version provides the perfect venue for this intriguing tale. Both storylines work and feed off one another, the reader often one step ahead of Sian Love as we get to follow the fortunes of two young couples; their expectations, ambitions and violent descent. With thoughtful social commentary and moments of menace that bring to mind Malcolm Mackay's crime books, Dead Flowers is a new entry into the top ten of crime novels set in Nottingham. It’s a contemporary page-turner with a nostalgic heart, all from an author with an ear and an eye for working class Nottingham and its people. Take this line as evidence:
He nodded and shrugged at the same time, an odd gesture that older men in Nottingham seemed to be the masters of, especially when they had an opinion.
It also seems fitting that Monaghan’s Sian Love is a forensic analyst as the first national police forensic science laboratory opened in Nottingham (in 1934).
About Nicola Monaghan
Nicola Monaghan was born in Nottingham in 1971, and grew up there on a number of different council estates. She studied Mathematics at the University of York, and went on to work as a teacher, and then in finance. She has lived in London, Paris and Chicago, but moved back to her home town in 2002 to study Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent. She has since written several novels and novellas, as well as scripts for short films. Her first book, The Killing Jar, won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Prize, the Waverton Good Read, and was selected for the New Blood Panel at Harrogate in 2007. She was the first fellow of the National Academy of Writing, based at Birmingham City University, and now teaches creative writing at De Montfort University. More recently, she studied crime writing at the University of East Anglia, where she wrote Dead Flowers, which was shortlisted for the UEA/Little Brown Prize. She lives in Nottingham with her husband, son, two dogs and – the real boss of the household – a cat called Dream Tiger.