The July Girls – Phoebe Locke
Available in Ebook, Hardback, Audio (25 July 2019) | Paperback (25 June 2020)
Source: Copy received for review
ABOUT THE BOOK
Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.
Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.
Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives . . .
I read and enjoyed Phoebe Locke’s debut, The Tall Man in 2018 and have had a copy of The July Girls which I sadly never got to for the hardback release. My thanks to Antonia of Headline for the tour invitation for the paperback publication, which was the ideal opportunity to push this up the review mountain.
The story beings in 2005 with 9 year old Addie living in Brixton with her father and older sister, Jessie. Told mainly from Addie’s perspective, the story properly begins on 7 July. The day Addie turns 10. It’s also the day of the London bombings, a day that I remember well as I was working in London. Later that night Addie sees her father come home, his clothes bloodied, he tells her he was involved in a fight. It’s soon discovered that a woman has gone missing. But Addie knows that Jessie has found a woman’s purse hidden in his bedroom.
This sets the pattern for the next few years. Each 7th July a woman is murdered. The killer becomes known as ‘the Magpie’ – because he takes an item belonging to the victim. We briefly meet some of the victims in the book, discover their story in the lead up to their disappearance.
Jessie is a few years older than Addie and is almost a mother figure to her as their father is usually out, he is a mini cab driver, and they are left to look after theirselves. Addie trusts Jessie implicitly in her young innocent way and its only as she gets older and finds herself involved in the Magpie’s warped games that she begins to question events and what she has been told.
This was very much a slow burner but this pace suited the story perfectly. It’s almost a coming of age for Addie as you watch her maturing into a teenager and unravelling events to piece together everything she knows. I felt that the author had captured Addie’s voice so well, even as a young child she had a clear voice even if she didn’t always understand what she was seeing. The girl’s father was not really of a caring disposition, and Addie’s early years were softened somewhat by Jessie’s boyfriend Dellar, who looked out for them both.
There was one character whose behaviour later on made me feel uncomfortable and for a good part of the story I wasn’t actually sure who knew what and who was protecting who. Combined with Addie’s narration are the occasional thoughts of the killer, and extracts from a book written about the Magpie.
The July Girls is a multi-layered suspenseful tale that took me completely by surprise. The tension and pace increased as the story, and the murders continued. I really enjoyed it and am kicking myself for leaving on my shelf for so long.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phoebe Locke is a full-time writer, part-time doer of odd jobs. These jobs have included Christmas Elf, cocktail waitress, and childminder. Her first novel (written as Nicci Cloke), Someday Find Me, was published in 2012 and her second, Lay Me Down, in 2015. She has also written three novels for young adults: Follow Me Back (2016), Close Your Eyes (2017) and Toxic (2018).
She lives and writes in Cambridgeshire, and her debut psychological thriller is The Tall Man. The July Girls was published in 2019.
The Tall Man (2018)