Review: First Girl to Die (Detective Morgan Brookes #4) by Helen Phifer

When Detective Morgan Brookes is called to the scene of a suicide, she’s devastated to recognise the young teacher sprawled out on the grass like a broken doll. She hasn’t seen Brittany for years. Not since the tragic death of Morgan’s high-school boyfriend ripped their friendship group apart. But when witnesses describe Brittany’s erratic behaviour and jumbled speech that morning, Morgan is convinced the fearless, life-loving girl she once knew didn’t jump of her own accord.

Traces of poison found in Brittany’s blood prove Morgan’s theory right, but no one can find the source. Then Morgan uncovers a distinctive jar in Brittany’s home filled with toxic herbs, and the sight of it turns her blood to ice. She has a jar just like it, a handmade gift from her aunt. Is this a coincidence, a set-up, or could the only person she’s ever trusted with her damaged past be capable of murder?

Then another woman from Morgan’s past is found, close to the scene of that fatal teenage party. Has Morgan been looking at this all wrong? Are these deaths connected to that deadly night? And how could someone from her own family possibly be involved?

Review

First Girl to Die is the 4th book in the Morgan Brookes series. We first met Morgan as a rookie in book 1. Needless to say, she has come a long way since then. Her character development has been stellar and I enjoy her working style and relation with her team. Although there is a hint of a possible romance in the team, I like the fact that it has not been rushed. I love not knowing what will happen between the 2 detectives in future though at this point, the romance wouldn’t be a bad idea.

This is a personal case for Morgan. It begins with the suicide of a school teacher. Morgan is devasted to find that she knows the victim. Brittany was Morgan’s old school friend. Her suicide seems odd right from the start. She is described to have been acting erratic and mumbling about a baby right before she killed herself. If that is not twisted enough, Morgan’s aunt, Ettie, had supplied herbal tea to Brittany and the tea is found to contain a deadly herb. Right from the start, there are numerous questions. What really happened to Brittany? Is Ettie involved? Is someone targeting Morgan’s old friends? If so, what is the motive?

This was a fast-paced, entertaining read. I enjoyed the twists and the unconventional MO of the villain. It was hard to guess the villain(s) identity or motives. I also liked the background story which took us back to Morgan’s high school days and the day that seems to have set off the present crimes. Overall, this was quite a good, captivating read.

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