The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt



There was nothing exceptional about the story, the characters or the crimes involved in this detective novel. Reading through the current reviews of this, I can’t understand how people thought this was gripping from the start, because for me, this was a little boring. A lot was happening, but at the same time, nothing was happening. Personally, I prefer heavier and darker reads, this felt a little too cosy for my liking.

Props to Sherratt for creating a detective novel where the detective has a normal life and no depressing baggage to carry around. Eden’s husband walked out on her, but that’s the only sad thing we learn about her! She has a daughter who loves her, and a new man on the scene. She also has a really close relationship with her sister who lives down the road and she likes all of her colleagues! Is that a first? Very possibly!

The other characters in this novel were pretty forgettable, and being as there were hundreds of different people involved in the story, I did forget who each one was most of this time! The Barker family were supposed to be the rough ones of the area, the kind of people you wanted to avoid, yet Sherratt named the main one Travis… Travis Barker…

Laura was an irritating character. I know her daughter was missing, but she was a complete nutcase and considering her sister was a police detective, she seemed to have no idea how reporting a crime and being question by the police worked. E.g. When Eden asked for a list of all the people she knew, Laura was like “WHAT? WHY?” … um so they can narrow down suspects maybe? And when she gets a call from Jess’ kidnapper and tells Eden not to get too involved???? I mean, your daughter has been taken by a mysterious, dangerous man, and you’d rather not have the police look into it as quickly as possible?

The language of this novel felt a little “young adult” for me. I’m not really sure how to describe what I mean, but sentences just felt a little too simple, speech seemed a bit to-the-point and unrealistic. Also, some of the characters acted overly juvenile for their age. I know 16 years olds aren’t always so mature, but these one’s felt really oblivious to adult life. Such as, when Katie was writing home, she wrote about how Deanna’s “never going to wear nice clothes or fancy shoes again” as if that’s the main concern here. Surely Sherratt doesn’t think 16 year old girls are really that obnoxious? If I was 16 and involved in a murder trial, I wouldn’t be thinking about how the victim couldn’t dress up nicely anymore, I’d be thinking about how her future was taken from her, how she could have grown up to be a world renowned scientist etc.

This needs some serious proof reading before it’s published! Chapter 48 and 49 were all over the place! First they were just finishing up questioning Travis and then going to question his brother Damien, then Eden got distracted by a phone call before she was going in to talk to Travis (again, or did it mean Damien???), then they went into the questioning room and were talking to Damien, but halfway through the conversation he turned into Travis! Very confusing. I had no idea who they were actually speaking to.

This wasn’t great for me. It felt a bit childish and some of the characters actions got on my nerves. I didn’t quite get how Katie’s story and Jess’ story were connected either, it just seemed a bit vague and I wouldn’t have personally connected the two plot lines together. I very much doubt I’ll be keeping up with this series.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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