Back in April, I put my auto-approval with Bookouture to good use, and downloaded this on Netgalley… and it sat for months waiting for me to read it while I read other books instead. I finally opened it up last week, and just like that, I’ve found a new series and author to love!
In my opinion, some of the best books (regardless of genre and sub-genre) use an old, abandoned asylum as a backdrop for the action. You can’t pick a creepier setting that than… your imagination sparks images of sorts of things that might have happened there before you even crack open the book. They give books an ambience that can’t be achieved in other settings, and is used to particularly chilling effect in crime thrillers.
Helen Phifer puts all of this to use in The Lost Children, creating a story about a place—the Moore Asylum—whose past is as horrifying as the murder that takes place there decades after its closure. It’s the first of several murders connected to the asylum, and it’s up to Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin to figure out who the killer is and put an end to the bloodshed.
Lucy Harwin is fabulously flawed. Her relationship with her daughter is rocky, and she’s a workaholic with a tendency to drink too much at times in order to forget the horrific things she sees on the job. She struggles with the guilt she feels over victims she was unable to save, holding herself responsible whether she is or not. The woman has issues, but she’s tough as nails when it comes to her job, and fiercely protective of the people she loves.
There are occasional flashbacks to the mid-1970s, which are told through one of three point of view: children who were patients in the asylum, a doctor at the asylum, and a nurse who worked on Ward 13—the children’s ward. It was fascinating to see the asylum through the eyes of people who worked, or were patients, there. The abandoned asylum of the present day is creepy, but what happened before the asylum closed is the stuff of nightmares.
I was able to figure out a couple of things before they were revealed in the story, but it didn’t affect the rating I’ve chosen to give this book because there were a couple of things I didn’t see coming that were fantastic and really added to the story.
I can’t wait to read more about Lucy Harwin!
Author: Helen Phifer
Title: The Lost Children
Series: Detective Lucy Harwin #1
Genre: Crime Thriller
Published March 24th, 2017 by Bookouture
About the Book
Lizzy pulled the covers over her head. Then she realised what was being dragged behind the person with the torch. She rammed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from screaming…
For decades, The Moore Asylum was home to the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But ever since a scandal forced its closure, the abandoned building has cast an imposing shadow. Until now – when an elderly man is found dead, his body strapped to an ancient gurney…
Detective Lucy Harwin, still reeling from a previous case that ended in the devastating murder of a mother and her child, finds herself on the trail of a killer ruthlessly fixated on avenging the asylum’s wrongs.
What disturbing secrets lie within the asylum’s walls? Together with her partner Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy begins to unearth its terrible history, and the horrors endured by the vulnerable children.
As the attacks escalate and a woman is murdered on her own doorstep, Lucy is forced into a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a twisted individual. But can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing left to lose?
An absolutely terrifying and gripping thriller that will chill readers of MJ Arlidge, Angela Marsons and Rachel Abbott to the bone.
About the Author
Helen Phifer’s love of reading began with Enid Blyton, before progressing on to Laura Ingalls Wilder and scaring herself with Steven King. If she can’t write for any particular reason she finds herself getting itchy fingers and really irritable. She loves reading as much as writing and is also very fond of chocolate, Prosecco, The Lake District, New York, white Zinfandel wine, my children and grandchildren, my friends, porn star martini cocktails, Stephen King, watching scary films, Marilyn Monroe, Melissa McCarthy, Idris Elba, Simon Baker, Spandau Ballet, The Munsters and coffee. In no particular order.
Author photo and bio via Bookouture.