How could two little girls walk to their deaths and nobody notice? Two Little Girls, the third novel in the Dr Jessie Flynn, clinical psychologist, crime series, is an intense psychological exploration into the minds of three very different women: a mother accused of filicide, a vagrant, who pounds the beach looking for ‘treasure’ and a clinical psychologist, haunted by the suicide of her little brother, and crippled by OCD.
Many years ago, aged eighteen, I decided to study for a degree in Psychology as I have always been fascinated by the ‘whys’ of human behaviour. In my naïve teenaged enthusiasm, I was certain that I would emerge from those three years, a virtual psychic, able to peer, keen eyed, straight into people’s brains – decipher the secrets hidden inside. Needless to say, I was bitterly disappointed! The human brain is far too complex to be accessed so lightly. A good few years later, with the benefit of maturity, I decided to revisit that love when carving out a character to be the lead protagonist in my first crime series. Clinical psychologist, Dr Jessie Flynn, is the embodiment of my interest and she has allowed me to continue to study, through my writing, that ‘why’.
In the previous two novels, Fire Damage and Scared to Death, Jessie was working for the Defence Clinical Psychology service. Fire Damage, has her counselling Sami Scott, a deeply traumatised four-year-old boy whose father was badly burnt in a petrol bomb attack in Afghanistan. Sami is terrified of someone or something he calls ‘The Shadowman’ and insists that ‘the girl knows’. However, there are no girls in Sami’s life, so Jessie needs to work out who this mysterious girl is. Sami’s parents insist that his trauma stems from seeing his father burnt beyond recognition, and that Major Scott is ‘The Shadowman’, but Jessie believes that the explanation is far darker.
In Scared to Death Jessie needs to find links between seemingly random events: a baby abandoned in the middle of the night at the A&E department of a busy hospital, the violent murder of a trainee soldier whose suspected killer then stayed, risking capture, and tried to save him, and the disturbing suicide of a sixteen-year-old boy a year earlier.
When it came to writing Two Little Girls, I decided that I wanted to expand the opportunities available to Jessie as a character by moving her into the civilian world. Having been invalided from the Army, she has been asked to help DI Bobby ‘Marilyn’ Simmons, of Surrey and Sussex Major Crimes, solve the murder of two young girls, the first, two years previously, the second, in the opening chapters of the book.
Two Little Girls, begins with a question: How could two little girls walk to their deaths and nobody notice?
At its heart, Two Little Girls, is an intense psychological exploration into the minds of three very different women. Carolynn Reynolds is the mother of the first little girl, murdered two years previously. Accused of filicide, she was tried for her daughter’s murder and acquitted due to lack of evidence. But few believe that she was innocent. Much of Two Little Girls is written from Carolynn’s own perspective as I wanted to challenge myself to write a character who may or may not be innocent of child murder and challenge the reader to live inside that person’s head and try – as I tried many years before – to decipher the secrets hidden there, before the end of the novel.
Mental health is a huge issue in our society, with an increasing number of people struggling to live within the boundaries of what our society considers to be ‘normal’ and to survive the challenges of modern life mentally intact. Ruby Lovatt is a young, drugged addicted vagrant who walks the beach looking for ‘treasure’, but what devastating trauma in her past has led her to this lonely, marginalised, despised life? And how is she connected to these two little girls?
Dr Jessie Flynn is the psychologist tasked with investigating these two highly disturbing and emotive murder cases, where nothing is what it seems. However, she is struggling to adapt to civilian life, having been invalided from the Army after being attacked the disability she was left with as a result of the attack, and to control her OCD, driven by the suicide of her younger brother many years earlier.
I am a firm believer that if you, as a writer enjoy your craft, that love and passion will transfer itself to the page and so it made huge sense to me to use my knowledge of and passion for psychology in my Dr Jessie Flynn crime series.
So how could two little girls walk to their deaths and nobody notice?
Two Little Girls is published by HarperCollins