📖First Girl To Die by Helen Phifer (Detective Morgan Brookes Book 4)

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?

With her aunt’s freedom and more innocent lives at stake, Morgan must dig deep into her painful memories for answers. Who else was there that night, and what exactly did they see? She must stop this twisted killer before any more of her old friends become new victims – but at what cost?

So, reading this book was actually a godsend to me because I’ve been dealing with a back seizure, which as you can imagine, is quite painful. This book provided a good distraction and I enjoyed it like I have enjoyed other work by Helen Phifer.

Detective Constable Morgan Brookes is a confident, reckless, and passionate character and the series of books starring her have become a familiar home for me. Much like my love for the character of Josie Quinn by Lisa Regan, Morgan Brookes has a lot of spunk in her and the ability to keep going despite what is thrown her way.

This installment, book 4 in the series, presents the reader with a brief past look at Morgan aged 18, as it involved her past friends from school. It was interesting to see Morgan as a younger character and see how the past shaped her future.

There is a lot of tension in this book between Morgan and Ben and I think most readers are hanging on tender hooks waiting for them to get together. I am part of that group, I so want Ben and Morgan to get together but I think Helen Phifer has written them in a very exciting way. I say this because there is so much room for their friendship to grow and blossom before they take any step romantically. Each character carries a lot of weight with them and I think some of that needs to be dispelled before anything further happens.

Morgan Brookes is a character who runs into danger head first but I like that attitude because I’ve seen so often female detectives and police officers projected as meek, weak, or limiting. While running into danger head first isn’t a practice that is necessarily acted upon in real life, it makes the character a dominating force and shows her strength and determinaiton.

Helen Phifer writes in a way that I find delightful because there is always the surprise of the killer with enough twists and hints to allow you to form your own theories, but without being overly complicated, unthinkable, or completely obvious. And there are always layers to Phifer’s writing that I appreciate. There is never an ‘unneeded character’. Whatever characters you are introduced to are somehow involved in the central plot and even those characters who are written in in just a line have something to tell.

We also see more of Morgan’s aunt Ettie in this book, which I welcomed because I feel like Morgan needs all the love she can get at this point. It was interesting to see her inclusion and how Phifer wove her into the storyline. It captured the essence of the character very well.

This book took me two days to read as I was busy, but I imagine if you had an afternoon to cuddle up with it, it wouldn’t take more than 4 hours to read. There are certain authors I turn to for familiarity and comfort and Phifer is one of those.

Book 5 of the series is already out, so of course I downloaded it after finishing this book (book 4). I don’t have any expectations on what direction the character of Morgan Brookes will take. I know there is bound to be something climactic soon as we learned of her past earlier in the series and of the escapee from prison that might seek her out. I know that when that point occurs it will be tumultuous but captivating to read.

I think for now I just want to see her explore more of her confidence, gain some friends outside of work and build more upon the friendship with Ben.

This year we’re rating in sparkles, so I give this book – ✨✨✨✨✨

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