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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

The Darkest Flower, Kristin Wright: A Review

Twitter is a wonderful place to hear about books, especially debuts, so if you're not on Twitter, let me tell you about The Darkest Flower. I'll start by saying that I remember the pitch that Wright posted, and I couldn't wait to read it from that point on. That cover, the synopsis--stellar. I'm a sucker for legal thrillers, but give me PTA moms on power trips, and you'll win my heart.

When Kira is accused of poisoning Summer's smoothie at the fifth grade graduation event, she hires Allison Barton to defend her. As the investigation begins, the pristine lives of these PTA moms unravel, unearthing motive, secrets, and more lies than you can fit in a Prada bag. From gossip to long-held grudges, Allison must sift through the accounts and find a way to prove her client's innocence--even if she's not entirely convinced herself.

I loved this book.

Legal thrillers can be tricky for me. Much of the time, they skew toward the dramatic: sprawling courtroom scenes with chilling testimony, surprise witnesses, and damning evidence. There is drama in The Darkest Flower, don't get me wrong, but it's calculated and practical. It's not pointing fingers and revelations for the sake of scandalous gasps.

Allison's character is grounded in reality. She's methodical, albeit scattered in her execution because--and this is what I found most refreshing--her workload isn't limited to this single case. She has dozens of cases on her plate, oftentimes requiring her to spread herself too thin and highlighting the juggling act that is her life as a single working mother. This was so relatable: guilt that you're not doing enough for the job, guilt that other parents are doing more for their children. The never-ending supply of questions that come when you compare yourself to others.

And what better place to bring a mother's insecurities to light than a PTA of supermoms--different in looks and upbringings, but all of them determined to out-mom each other. I loved how Allison's voice was both confident and unsure, and I especially loved how Wright executed her interactions with Kira. We get both sides of the voices, their impressions of each other and our own impressions, and the end result is nuanced characters and a culminating trial that will leave you guessing until the very last page. No spoilers, but the structure of this book worked so well, a slow-burn reveal of secrets and lies that is everything you want from the genre.

Overall, The Darkest Flower is a compulsively-readable suspense with deliciously-wicked voices that will make you question how far you would go to set your child up for success. Desperate Housewives meets Law and Order, you won't want to miss this.

Huge thanks to Thomas and Mercer for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.


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