"The Wicked Girls" became the British press' catchphrase for 11-year-old Bel Oldacre and Jade Walker, who were convicted in the mid-1980s of killing a much younger child.
In The Wicked Girls, Alex Marwood delivers an insightful psychological study of the two girls and the women they became 25 years later as well as a social commentary on how economics color the way people are judged, the insidious nature of gossip and mob mentality. The brisk plot never falters through its realistic twists.
Bel and Jade's backgrounds are vastly different. Bel's upper middle class family is respected in the town. They even have servants and a massive garage filled with 10 cars. Jade's poor family are outcasts, considered thieves and near criminals. Jade isn't even allowed in the neighborhood convenience store. But the girls do have one thing in common both are unloved children, ignored by their families, at best neglected. They meet for the first time one morning in 1985 and become fast friends. By the end of the day, a six-year-old girl is dead. Each called "the most hated child in Britain," Bel and Jade are sent to separate juvenile facilities for years and their identities are changed.