The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood is not my typical fare. It is a thriller about the unintentionally intertwined lives of two women forever joined together by a crime they committed in their childhoods. After serving their time in juvenile detention they are given new identities for their own protection and go on to try to make new lives for themselves.
Much of the novel has to do with living a lie. The two protagonists, Kirsty and Amber, have to live their lives as adults without revealing their pasts. For both of them, this means never revealing to their partners their true selves. For Kirsty, a suburban working mom, this puts strain on her family life. For Amber, on the other hand, her partner is equally cagey about his past.
The Wicked Girls, like many of the novels I’ve been reading lately, is set in England. Before I moved to the UK I did not read very much British writing, unless it was nominated for a major prize. Although one would not think that the cultural differences between the UK and North America are that great, I am delighting in the subtle differences in the two cultures. This is something I don’t think I would have appreciated without having lived in both places. In particular, books like The Wicked Girls have focused on some of the grittier sides of life in Britain, something I do not encounter in my daily life here, but class differences in the UK are something I am growing increasingly aware of. Although class issues exist everywhere, over here they seem very different than in North America – more pronounced and more permanent.
Who would like this book? As I mentioned at the top The Wicked Girls is a thriller, a genre I don’t generally read. In my own snobbish way I tend to think that thrillers won’t be well written. That is certainly not the case with The Wicked Girls. Alex Marwood is the pseudonym for a London based journalist. The novel is smart and well written. In many ways it reminds me of Linwood Barclay‘s thrillers, perhaps because they both have journalistic backgrounds.