BLOG TOUR THE LOST CHILDREN HELEN PHIFER

 

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Helen Phifer Blog Tour  The Lost Children

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get an early look at this book. I admit until then I had never heard of Helen Phifer, but I will be on the lookout for her books in the future.

What made this book special?

Helen has managed to write a book which captivated me, not just with the story, but the characters in it.

So often in modern writing one is sacrificed for the other, or the book becomes overly long, not this one. It strikes the perfect balance. The story is a page turner from the start, but just as much as the main story-line, I invested in the characters.

From DI Lucy Harwin, the dyed-red-haired, tattooed single woman who is estranged from her husband and daughter; to the very glamorous Dr Catherine Maxwell, the Pathologist, all the Police charters are intriguing. In fact I think Dr Maxwell would make a tremendous protagonist in her own series.

The victims and perpetrator of the crimes are equally as enthralling, and mysterious. Helen has taken as much care about the characters on the peripheries as she has on the main ones, and that means there was no way of working out who the perpetrator was by the balance of the amount of time they got on the page.

The one thing that makes this book stand out is the correct use of terminology, and the believability of the Police Officers and the way they work and interact with each other. There is a letter from the author in the back of the book. In it she drops out that she works for the Police. I don’t know in what capacity but the fact that she is immersed in that world shows in her writing.

So, if you want a realistic, enthralling Police Thriller, with a cast of characters who you are going to want to meet again, then this is just the book.

I’ve put my original review below here. I’ve just read it again. I think my enthusiasm for this book, and the series to follow speaks for itself.

 

 

The Lost Children

I jotted something down in my note book really early into reading this book.

Refreshing, an author who knows current police procedures and terminology”

 That little note reflects why this crime thriller stands out from many of the others on the shelves today.

That and the fact that there is a full cast of excellent characters surrounding DI Lucy Harwin, work colleagues, family, and even the victims and their families, all add to the eclectic mix of people she encounters on a daily basis.

The opening to the book is going to be familiar to some readers. There have been a few books partially set in the care homes and institutes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s recently.

And why not, every year there seems to be another case of historic abuse associated with these establishments.

This book stands out though. Helen Phifer has written a thriller in more ways than one.

The main protagonist, DI Lucy Harwin, is a little bit out there. Dyed Red hair, tattoo’s, and an attitude. Divorced from her husband, estranged from her teenage daughter, and living alone. On forced gardening leave following her involvement in a tragic serious incident, we meet Lucy at her counselling on the day she is supposed to start back to work.

Unfortunately for her a gruesome murder is waiting for her on her return to the usually quiet seaside town of Brooklyn Bay. What a setting for a book, once a prosperous seaside resort, now struggling with the recession and lack of holiday makers.

Lucy has a good team, some of which we get to meet in detail, but others who play interesting little bit parts, hopefully they will start to build in future books.

Lucy’s mainstay, and probably her best friend is DS Mattie Jackson. They have one of those relationships where they both know a little bit too much about each other, care a little bit too much for each other, and act like an old married couple without actually ever being in a relationship.

As the murders start to stack up, the once happy seaside town starts to look like a dangerous place to live.

Lucy and Mattie, and their team, start to link the crimes. At about the same time the reader will start to link two or three characters with being the murder.

Helen has written this book teasingly well. Yes, I knew who the killer was early, well I thought I did. It was always one of the three people but gentle little shifts in the story had me moving from one to the another regularly. If I’m honest I didn’t actually positively identify who was responsible for the crimes until the last couple of chapters.

I recently wrote a blog about Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone books.

In that I said you don’t always need a cliff-hanger finish to make you eagerly await the next book in the series. The best series are those which have a cast of characters that make you want to read about them again. To look forward to seeing how they have fared since the last book.

That’s exactly how I felt at the end of this book. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the fact that it was written by somebody who works in the police, see the letter from Helen at the End of the Book, so all of the phrases and techniques are current and accurate. Most of all I’m looking forward to meeting Lucy, Mattie, Col and the rest of the Major Investigation team; Jack and Amanda the CSI team, and most of all the glamorous Pathologist Dr Catherine Maxwell again in future books. There is so much potential for these characters that each could take a turn at being the main protagonist, and the series would still move forward nicely.

I have a list, on my computer, that I call UK Lady Killer Writers. I look forward to each of their books coming out.

 

Angela Marsons

Marri Hannah

Marni Riches

Robert Galbraith (I know but we know who she is)

 

There is now a new name on the list. Helen Phifer.

 

What a night that would be. Sat around a table with that little cohort drinking Red Wine or Jack Daniels, and nothing to do but talk about crime thriller plots.

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Let the Dead Speak Jane Casey

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The newly promoted DS Maeve Kerrigan is back, and you won’t be disappointed.

Whether you’re new to Jane Casey’s work, or a fan of her books, this is a treat.

Although this is the latest in a series, it reads well as a stand-alone. So, if you are new to Maeve Kerrigan and her team you won’t feel like a stranger at a party; and if you’ve read the previous books, you will love this one.

Maeve is single, again, she’s still working on the Murder Investigation Team, but has been promoted to Detective Sergeant. With the added responsibility comes the added problem of looking after a new team member. Detective Constable Georgia Shaw is not exactly making friends. Being young and attractive is enough to rile some people, but add to the fact she is on the fast-track-promotion scheme, and has little or no experience as a copper, and you have a character that adds a nice little sub plot to the main story.

The main story is brilliant in its simplicity. The crimes all happen on the same street and involve two families and a few other local members of the community.

Kate Emery is a 42-year old single mother, divorced from her husband for over 12 years. Her daughter, 18-year old Chloe has cognitive disabilities, and Kate has dedicated her life to being her carer.

When Chloe returns home, from a weekend stay with her father and his new family, she finds her mother missing and the house is a blood bath.

Kerrigan and her team start a murder enquiry.

Chloe is left in the care of a family living over the road from her house. The Norris family are a tremendously well written bunch of characters. Devoutly Christian they stand for everything that Kate didn’t, but the daughter Bethany is Chloe’s best friend.

As the inquiry into Kate’s murder progresses Kerrigan and her team start to find evidence that Kate was not the woman she seems. Single, and attractive, it appears she has a secret life her daughter and “most” of the neighbours don’t know about.

She is receiving money from her ex-husband, and has her own business, but it still seems she needs more money.

Is Chloe actually as bad as her mother would have people think, or are her disabilities an exaggeration of her shy personality that her mother is trying to use to get benefits, schooling, and more money from her ex.

The story has a limited bunch of characters but anyone of them could be the killer, and I didn’t see the end coming right up till it leapt of the pages of the last chapters.

The Norris Family could have a whole book written just about them, would any of them want Kate dead, and what possible motive could any of them have for killing her.

Brian Emery, Chloe’s dad, and his new family could have a book written just about them too. His new wife is a bitch, and her two teenage sons are spoilt brats, who Chloe hates. So why does she spend the odd weekend at their house. Could one of them have wanted Kate dead. Does Chloe really hate them or would her mother’s death mean she could spend more time at the house.

This book has twists and turns in every chapter.

It has moralistic issues as well. I found myself liking characters I shouldn’t like.

Casey writes the story so well that when you are seeing things through Maeve Kerrigan’s eyes you find yourself going with her thought process. In other books of this ilk I often find myself disagreeing with the main character, or think “don’t be daft” but with Kerrigan everything just seems right and justified. Maybe we just think the same way.

If you haven’t read the other books in this series you really have missed out. Read this one then go back and start at the beginning.

Like I said at the start of this blog  YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED

The Lost Children Helen Phifer

 

 

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I jotted something down in my note book really early into reading this book.

Refreshing, an author who knows current police procedures and terminology”

 That little note reflects why this crime thriller stands out from many of the others on the shelves today.

That and the fact that there is a full cast of excellent characters surrounding DI Lucy Harwin, work colleagues, family, and even the victims and their families, all add to the eclectic mix of people she encounters on a daily basis.

The opening to the book is going to be familiar to some readers. There have been a few books partially set in the care homes and institutes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s recently.

And why not, every year there seems to be another case of historic abuse associated with these establishments.

This book stands out though. Helen Phifer has written a thriller in more ways than one.

The main protagonist, DI Lucy Harwin, is a little bit out there. Dyed Red hair, tattoo’s, and an attitude. Divorced from her husband, estranged from her teenage daughter, and living alone. On forced gardening leave following her involvement in a tragic serious incident, we meet Lucy at her counselling on the day she is supposed to start back to work.

Unfortunately for her a gruesome murder is waiting for her on her return to the usually quiet seaside town of Brooklyn Bay. What a setting for a book, once a prosperous seaside resort, now struggling with the recession and lack of holiday makers.

Lucy has a good team, some of which we get to meet in detail, but others who play interesting little bit parts, hopefully they will start to build in future books.

Lucy’s mainstay, and probably her best friend is DS Mattie Jackson. They have one of those relationships where they both know a little bit too much about each other, care a little bit too much for each other, and act like an old married couple without actually ever being in a relationship.

As the murders start to stack up, the once happy seaside town starts to look like a dangerous place to live.

Lucy and Mattie, and their team, start to link the crimes. At about the same time the reader will start to link two or three characters with being the murder.

Helen has written this book teasingly well. Yes, I knew who the killer was early, well I thought I did. It was always one of the three people but gentle little shifts in the story had me moving from one to the another regularly. If I’m honest I didn’t actually positively identify who was responsible for the crimes until the last couple of chapters.

I recently wrote a blog about Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone books.

In that I said you don’t always need a cliff-hanger finish to make you eagerly await the next book in the series. The best series are those which have a cast of characters that make you want to read about them again. To look forward to seeing how they have fared since the last book.

That’s exactly how I felt at the end of this book. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the fact that it was written by somebody who works in the police, see the letter from Helen at the End of the Book, so all of the phrases and techniques are current and accurate. Most of all I’m looking forward to meeting Lucy, Mattie, Col and the rest of the Major Investigation team; Jack and Amanda the CSI team, and most of all the glamorous Pathologist Dr Catherine Maxwell again in future books. There is so much potential for these characters that each could take a turn at being the main protagonist, and the series would still move forward nicely.

I have a list, on my computer, that I call UK Lady Killer Writers. I look forward to each of their books coming out.

Angela Marsons

Marri Hannah

Marni Riches

Robert Galbraith (I know but we know who she is)

There is now a new name on the list. Helen Phifer.

What a night that would be. Sat around a table with  that little cohort drinking Red Wine or Jack Daniels, and nothing to do but talk about crime thriller plots.

Angela Marsons Kim Stones Series Looking forward to DEAD SOULS

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So, the latest Detective Inspector Kim Stone novel by Angela Marsons is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Why is this great news?

Because she is my favourite author, and not just mine. Within a couple of hours of her announcing it was available, on twitter and Facebook, the book was at number 16 on Amazons sales list. This was no surprise as it was recently announced that she has sold over 2 million books worldwide.

So, what makes Angela so popular. I can’t speak for everybody but here’s why I like her books so much.

The most important thing, to me, in a good story is its believability, it has to be real. Angela’s stories are. There is no over-exaggerated, unrealistic crimes. Everything you read is something that could, or has, happened. Yes, the crimes would make it to the front pages of the local paper and onto the local news, but there are no over-the-top, sensationalised, story lines which would have the general population in a panic over national news headlines.

Each story is self-contained, so the books can be read as stand-alone novels, but an outstanding cast of characters run through the them. I have found myself liking the most unlikely of people, getting conned into thinking some are nice, reliable people, only to find out they are the complete opposite, and actually hating others.

Characters that have bit parts in one book reappear in others.

All of the characters, especially Kim Stone and her team, are developing throughout the series. Books don’t always need cliff hanger finishes, they just need characters you want to meet again.

Every time I pick up a new book in this series I look forward to the character’s stories as well as finding out what crime has been committed and who’s responsible for it.

Then there is always the setting. The Black Country. I know some of the appeal in these books, for me, is that they are based around where I live. But that’s not the main thing, it’s the way Angela captures the places, and people of the region. You don’t have to live here to appreciate that. Greg Isles is also one of my favourite writers but I’ve never lived in Natchez on the Mississippi.

Why does the Black Country make a good setting? because it has everything. There are low social-economic housing estates and edge-of-the-country piles worth millions. There are every possible combination of nationalities, and the communities they develop. There are out of town shopping malls, and there are run down market towns. There are people who are the salt-of-the-earth and there are out and out scumbags, and everybody in between.

The possibilities are endless, as is Angela’s story telling ability.

The books are a testament to Angela Marsons and her persistence. She has been writing for years and suffered God knows how many rejections by publishers.  Now she is one of the UK’s top selling crime authors and is going from strength to strength.

 

How good are these books? Silent Scream, the first in the series, was published by Bookouture in February 2015. Now, in March 2017, we are eagerly awaiting DEAD SOULS, the sixth book in the series.

If a publisher is willing to bring that many books to the shelf in that short a time, the stories must be good.

So, if you haven’t read any of the books in this series yet, and you want to know why I Iike them so much.

I’ve put some links below to my reviews of the first five.

Treat yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/silent-scream-evil-games-angela-marsons/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/category/lost-girls/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/play-dead-angela-marsons/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/blood-lines-angela-marsons/

The Promise Casey Kelleher

 

 

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Modern day Brixton, with all the drugs and prostitution you expect from it.

Washed out old hags working the streets to feed habits, that are slowly eating them alive.

Attractive young girls, looking to be the next WAG and getting tricked into being High Class Escorts, to feed their addiction to the modern scourge of materialism.

Pimps feeding off addictions and fantasies.

Drug dealers feeding the addictions.

Families that get caught in the mess made by it all.

This story has it all.

Josie, the single mother of two girls, Georgie, 12 and Marnie 5. Living in a stinking flat with no food or clean clothes the girls hear their mother, “earning” money for her next fix.

Josie used to be a good earner, until her looks were ravished by the substances she was putting in her veins. Her dealer has been given a beating once by her pimp, but he keeps coming back and Josie keeps buying.

Delray Anderton is Josie’s pimp. He started running whores like Josie but has moved up in the world and now runs a high end escort agency, but he still looks after his old girls.

So when Josie disgraces herself with a client Delray comes to sort it out but then cuts Josie free. She can’t work within 20 miles of home, that’s his patch.

In desperation for money Josie gets herself into more trouble which ends with her being convicted of murder.

Her Girls are taken into care and that’s when their troubles really start.

Running away they end up under Delrays wing, but he is only interested in one thing. He has a client who likes young teenage girls, and Georgie is perfect.

The girls must escape, or at least try, but do they? can they?

 

This is a good story and Casey Kelleher does a great job of describing the world we all know exists but try to ignore. The book can be uncomfortable reading at times, but it’s gritty, so maybe its not supposed to be an easy read.

 

 

The Missing Ones Patricia Gibney

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The Missing Ones        Patricia Gibney

Every now and then something good comes into your life.

This happened to me the other day. I requested a copy of The Missing Ones, a debut novel by Patricia Gibney.

The book was downloaded to my Kindle and I started reading what has turned out to be an absolutely, brilliant book.

Let me introduce you to the main character.

Detective Inspector Lottie Parker.

She is 43 years old, a widow who is struggling to bring up three teenage children, struggling with the death of her husband, struggling with alcohol, and struggling with the arrogance and ignorance of her Senior Officer Superintendent Corrigan.

I think it’s fair to say life a struggle for Lottie.

But Don’t feel sorry for her, all those things just add to a character you can’t help falling in love with. Whilst she’s battling just to keep her life on track, she is a good Police Officer in the midlands of Ireland, and this book could not have been set anywhere else.

There is a murder to investigate, historic child abuse by the clergy, corruption within the town council, good priests, bad priests, nice cops and functioning cops, all interwoven into one fantastic story.

The story is told with Lottie as the main protagonist. She is called to the murder of a 51-year-old woman in a Cathedral.  This is the first of a series off killings which take place over New Year 2014, in the middle of a snowy winter.

Anonymous flashback chapters tell the story of horrific happenings at St Angela’s Children’s Home in 1974. Good luck guessing who is having the flashbacks, it kept me intrigued up to the end.

Are the killings in 2014 connected with the happenings, of 40 years ago, in the now abandoned home?

Can Lottie solve the murders?

She will have to ignore her boss, rely on her team, and hope she can. Why? Because nobody is safe until the killer is caught. Nobody.

I said that every now and then something good comes into your life. Well in this case two things have.

Detective Inspector Lottie Parker and her team; and the author Patricia Gibney who has written a brilliant page turner of a Crime Thriller.

Let’s Hope we hear a lot more from both of them.

Witness Caroline Mitchell

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Another original concept for a psychological thriller by this brilliant writer.

I sat down with this book early on New Year’s Eve afternoon, and put it down when the fireworks were going off outside.

What a way to end a year.

This story has, at its core, an abusive relationship where a man keeps control over his girlfriend by demeaning her as a person; physically, emotionally and mentally.

The relationship ended 10 years ago and is recalled in a journal kept by the main protagonist Rebecca. Her nightmare came to an end when her abusive partner Solomon was jailed for a serious crime.

Becky, as she is now known, has started a new life in the wilds of the Welsh Countryside. She is married to a vet and has a lovely daughter.

Everything is good in Becky’s life until she finds a strange phone and starts getting texts on it. Solomon is out of prison and wants revenge for his ten years behind bars.

Becky is to witness a crime for every year he has been in prison. She cannot tell anybody about the crimes, she cannot tell the Police she has witnessed the crimes, and worse of all, she must choose the victims of the crime.

At first the crimes are petty but each is more severe and people start to get hurt.

This book explores the abusive relationship in 2005. It describes how Solomon targets a weak Rebecca at a time when she is most vulnerable, and how he uses his personality and charisma to embed himself in her life.

The parts of the book set in 2015 explore some moral dilemmas that are frighteningly realistic. This book explores how a person can choose which of the people they love to suffer over another. Would it be easier to substitute strangers for loved ones……….Could you use the Witness tasks to extract revenge???

Who will be the victim of the ultimate crime.

The story is great, it’s original, and it had me hooked from start to finish.

The writing is excellent. There was no point in this book where I “skipped over” any passages.

Save the best till last, as the saying goes. Well this was the last book I read in 2016, and I can’t think of a better read all year.