Dead Jealous takes place against the backdrop of the John Barleycorn pagan festival to celebrate Lughnasadh. Poppy and her family have attended this for years at Scariswater in the Lake District. Poppy’s mother and step-father will be having their handfasting ceremony too. We get to know a little of Poppy’s life, her family and Michael (long time best friend). Tariq comes onto the scene as the chip and burger van owner who helps Poppy out when she loses her money. Older than her, there is a sexual buzz between them.
Poppy moves away from the festival to eat and think when she stumbles on Beth. Holding a half empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s, she shares with Poppy that she’s looking for lost girlfriend Maya who was at the same festival last year but hasn’t been seen since.
From this moment, we’re taken through a tense and anxious weekend as a death occurs which only Poppy believes was murder. Feeling a connection with Beth, she does her own investigations.
Long time best friend Michael is also a large part of the story. Poppy has feelings for him that she knows aren’t reciprocated. She’s been pushing him away. She’s confused by her feelings for Tariq and confused about her relationship with Michael. Michael heads to the festival when he hears about the drowning, fearing the worst having been a part of her boating accident.
I loved the pagan festival! In some ways it reminded me of the rituals at Avebury and it made me realise that I miss those days. There’s an excellent scene in the sweat lodge, where Poppy is allowed to participate for the first time.
All the characters are brilliant. I loved Poppy’s wit. She acts exactly right for a 16 year old, a mixture of confidence and insecurity, sassiness and shyness.
I never guessed who the perpetrator was until it was almost there in front of me in black and white! I had been led down the wrong track with a red herring … brilliant!
The plot is engaging enough with just the murder and the anxieties that engenders, throw in the sweet young love of Poppy and Michael and the sexual attraction between Poppy and Tariq and you have a multi-layered plot that will hold even the most seasoned reader’s (whether you are a YA or an adult reader) attention.
Dead Jealous is the first in the Poppy Sinclair thrillers. I can wait until Dead Silent publishes in March next year!
I would like to thank the publishers for providing a proof copy in exchange for an honest review.