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Review - Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips

 

Reviewed by Jenni Cahill

 

Red-ribbons-louise-phillips

Schoolgirl Caroline Devine’s body is discovered two days after she was reported missing by her family, her body has been arranged in the foetal position and her hair plaited and secured with two red ribbons.

 

Criminal Psychologist, Dr Kate Pearson, is brought onto the case to delve inside the mind of her killer. Kate notes the care the killer took in the burial of Caroline’s body and, while she thinks he will strike again, she suggests he will take his time, giving the police an opportunity to catch him before any more murders occur. Kate’s suggestion is wrong. Another schoolgirl’s body is found within 24 hours, her body placed in a similar way to Caroline’s and her hair also plaited with two red ribbons. Kate knows the killer will strike yet again and that she and the police must move quickly.

 

Meanwhile, Ellie Brady, institutionalised since her daughter’s death 15 years previously, is being made to question her past actions after seeing a new doctor. She was accused of killing her daughter, but gave up protesting her innocence when no-one believed her. Now, Ellie finds that speaking to the new doctor is somehow opening up long suppressed emotions.

 

Red Ribbons is told not only from Kate, the police and Ellie’s point of view, but also that of the killer’s too, and while we know who is killing the schoolgirls, we don’t know why. The killer has specific victims and rituals for burial and over time we learn how he turned to murder and why he follows these patterns. The killer is eerily calm in his actions and reasoning, making him much more chilling than a frenzied attacker.

 

From the very beginning I was drawn to Ellie’s story, eager to find out what happened to her and her daughter, Amy, and how their story slotted into that of Caroline Devine’s. I couldn’t help feeling for Ellie as she struggled to open up after so many years locked inside her own mind and I rooted for her, hoping somebody would finally listen to what she was saying and, more importantly, believe her version of events. She’d never allowed herself to fully grieve for Amy and so allowing herself to open up again is painful.

 

I thought the pace of the book was spot on, revealing information from the killer’s past bit by bit to keep the reader turning the pages without dragging it out and leaving them frustrated. I certainly found myself keen to read on and discover why the killer became the man he is and whether he would be caught before he snared his next victim.

 

Verdict: 9/10

 

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