On my blog today I’m sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Isabel Ashdown, 33 Women as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Nicole Thomas from Orion Books for inviting me to take part.
When sisters Celine and Pip get a call telling them their reclusive mother has died, the women are reunited at her riverside home in Arundel to pick up the pieces. But someone is missing – their middle sister, Vanessa, brutally murdered years ago and the victim of an unsolved case. As the sisters confront ghosts from the past, the discovery of another body in similar circumstances throws new light on Vanessa’s death. Could there be more to her case than the police first thought? And what do the mysterious residents of Two Cross Farm, the neighbouring women’s commune, have to do with it? What secrets are lurking behind their locked gates? And what is the significance of the number 33?
33 Women is an intense read by Isabel Ashdown, and I think it’s my favourite of her books to date. Isabel creates a mysterious atmosphere in her latest novel, with the story focusing on the murder of a woman, Vanessa, in 2005, whose body was left abandoned near Brighton Pier. Now, years later, the woman’s sisters, Celine and Pip are pushing for a reinvestigation, especially for the police to investigate the women’s shelter Vanessa lived in before she was murdered. And when the police begin to look into the refuge, they soon link other crimes that have taken place, which may also have a connection to the shelter.
I raced through this book. I had to know what was really going on at the women’s refuge, known as Two Cross Farm. I was intrigued by the residents, especially their leader, Seed and what they had to hide. In the wake of the renewed media and police interest in the case of the murdered woman, the residents put on a united front. To me, it all seemed very controlled and that they had a lot of things to hide. Were the women frightened of putting a toe out of line? I also felt that the retired police officer, who goes into the refuge, was putting herself close to danger, but I could see that she too was keen to get to the truth about what was going on here.
Isabel Ashdown also takes us back to when the refuge was first formed. She creates an intense and creepy atmosphere as the women and their leader at the time, set out their rules for the future. It did have the feeling of more of a cult than of a women’s refuge. That’s what the press and the police speculate as well. It is unclear throughout the book just what really has been going on here. You can see just how concerned the women are at the intense media coverage.
The characters were really engaging. I could see just how desperate Pip and Celine are to get to the truth and to get justice for their sister. I also liked the retired detective who is sent to Two Cross Farm. I wanted her to get to the bottom of what was going on. The results of the investigation bring some shocking moment, including one revelation which made my mouth fall open.
33 Women is dark and foreboding. It is a hugely enjoyable read which I managed to finish in just a couple of sittings. You’ll be gripped from start to finish!
Publication date: 26th November 2020
Print length: 352 pages
33 Women is available to buy:
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