Passion Flower Massacre, The
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Ensuring that her readers are gripped from the opening pages, Morgan encases a story of family tragedy and teenage anxiety within a tautly constructed thriller. We are confronted by the mystery of an old woman who seems to be motivated by more than altruism in her role as a prison visitor; in counterpoint, doubts are raised about the repentance for some hinted at terrible deed by the prisoner she visits.
But this is some years into the future. As the story switches back to the present we meet Matilda who plans to spend her first summer after leaving school picking fruit at a farm. However, she begins to suspect that ‘the Beautiful People’, the attractive but rather clone-like young people, who run the farm, are engaged in sinister activities. The summer was to be her release from parents devastated by the terminal illness of her brother and an opportunity to begin forging a life separated from the ensuing personal trauma. While she begins to feel assuaged by the calm of the farm, it seems that Peter, the charismatic leader of the farm people, may be linked to the tragedy hinted at in the earlier episode.
Morgan builds tension and a feeling of uncertainty about unfolding events, set against sultry summer days where Matilda’s perception of reality begins to blur. But is it only the heat which makes her memory falter or is it something more sinister? The novel reaches a dramatic climax, on the way revealing bit by bit, insights into the complexities of the characters. Gripping and well-written, her latest book consolidates Morgan’s reputation as an exciting new talent. VC