Ignore what everyone's saying: this book isn't a murder mystery. It's the story of Alice Tully, seventeen years old, outwardly normal but a mess inside. Alice is deeply disturbed and insecure. At the age of ten, Alice murdered another child and was imprisoned. Newly released, she's trying to forget the incident, start a new life and cast off her old baggage. Somehow she can't get rid of her past trauma.
In the book, we follow Alice through a short period of her life: she's working in a coffee shop, living with a carer/social worker and trying to avoid the press.
The novel is interspersed with chilling vignettes from Alice's childhood. We see her neglected as a little girl, her depressed mother working sporadically as a model. We see her packed off to live with Gran, to live in a care-home, until finally Mum turns up and takes her away. We see her mother sinking lower and lower, and the child's tension building up and up - until the intense climax.
This is a fine novel that questions our habit of labelling people. As a killer, Alice is labelled EVIL and UNREACHABLE. The author shows that she's not evil, not unreachable: just deeply miserable and confused. The labels only serve to alienate Alice.
This novel made me resolve to take care of the children I might have, and never to neglect them. As Ms Cassidy so wisely points out, neglect in all its forms can be worse than any abuse.