‘That’s the thing about our town: people only come here if they’re going somewhere else’
It’s been 10 years since the tragic case of the Dover girls.
In the years that follow the discovery of the bodies, local legend grows around the events of that summer – and, with the one survivor refusing to speak, it seems the truth will never emerge. Until a documentary-maker arrives, determined to solve the mystery of the Dover Girls.
But he’s unprepared for what he uncovers – a tale of adolescence, belonging, borders and betrayal. And it becomes clear that some will stop at nothing to keep this town’s secrets…
This was an impressive piece of fiction that once started I could not put down. In 2016 two girls died and the third suffered life changing injuries, two of the girls were local, the third unidenitifed but likely to have been an asylum seeker, not registered and probably a child. 10 years later, Tarek a Syrian refugee is a sucessful investigative journalist, he has a personal interest in the Dover girls and interviews two of the key players – the surviving girl and the victims sister, determined to establish the events which led to the death of two teenagers.
Dover was then and continues to be tense and divided, Brexit has happened and there is a tide of unsympathetic intolerance towards those seeking asylum in England. Tarek while investigating this story recalls his time spent at the Calais camp known as the jungle, the traumas witnessed and the desperation to make the trecherous voyage across the channel to England. While his experience of England has been positive, in so far as he is settled with a wife and baby on the way and had the opportunity to study, he stills experiences discrimination and racial abuse, notably whilst in Dover.
Myths surround the circumstances of the teens deaths and there is a bias towards blaming the unknown girl, with suggestions of blackmail and violence. However as Tarek begins digging it is clear there is much more to this than meets the eye. Small town vibes and secrets and lies a plenty make this a compelling mystery. Original writing is a strength, with each chapter starting with a documentary recording progressing through the events leading up to the tragedies. In a then and now format the remainder of the story is told and collectively this works exceptionally well.
An excellent murder mystery, cleverly set in 2026 to incorporate Brexit and current social media apps. Refreshingly exploring the experiences of those seeking asylum and the widespread response of nations not genuinely wishing to accommodate those in desperate need. Themes of discrimination and racism are central, but mental health and family relationships are also key. Defintely a book I will be recommending, in the first instance to my husband who loves a good murder mystery.
About the Author
Natasha Bell grew up in Somerset and studied English Literature at the University of York and Mount Holyoke College, before moving to Chicago to take an MA in the Humanities. Over – educated and entirely unemployable, she spent her twenties in York writing TV listings and working as a barista and projectionist.
Her debut novel, His Perfect Wife was published in 2018. Natasha recently completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths and now writes full-time from her home in south-east London. She’s also currently working on a PhD in autofiction.
This is a blogtour so do check out what others are saying about his book as we celebrate its publication.