Last Night Helen Phifer

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Well here’s something you don’t come across very often, a prequel to a series. This is the book that tells the story of Lucy Harwin’s first case as a Detective Inspector, and what a gruesome one it is to cut your teeth on as the Senior Investigating Officer.

When a bunch of 13 year olds decide to go ghost hunting in a derelict church they get more than they bargained for. A woman is hanging upside down, on a crude crucifix made from burnt wood, with her throat cut.

Newley promoted Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin is sent to the scene as the duty SIO and meets up with her, DS Mattie Jackson.

It’s every Police Officers worst scenario, a brutal murder with no clues to work on, and a newly promoted Lucy finds it particularly frustrating. Her team are chasing around trying to identify the body and find any sort of evidence when a second body is found.

This second body brings with it another nightmare for every Police Officer and puts Lucy under even more pressure.

As the body count rises other factors start to lead Lucy and the team down some lines of enquiry that not everybody is comfortable with.

The first time I read one of Helen Phifer’s books I was taken aback by the way she writes, using the correct procedures and terminology, keeping the pace of the book up all the way through. Right up to the very end I was captivated by the pace of the story.

There’s more to her writing than that though. The stories are great, and just like the others this one kept me engrossed from start to finish.

From the first chapter I was sucked into a great scenario. Helen has chosen to use a once prosperous English seaside resort as her setting. I have recently worked in a couple of these towns and didn’t realise how much they had become run down. How they had become great places to set crime stories.

I would usually comment on whether a new book, in an already established series, could be read as a stand-alone.

Well, as this is a prequel the answer is obviously yes.

So, I’ll comment on whether people already reading the series will be disappointed by Helen going back to the start of Lucy Harwin’s career as a DI.

No, they most certainly won’t. What a great tool for giving us more of the back story to some of the key characters in the series, especially Lucy.

And what a tool for getting new readers hooked on a series that is already out there, because if this is the first DI Luck Harwin book you read, I can guarantee you will read the rest of the series and wait for the next instalment as eagerly as me.

Follow the links below for my reviews of the previous DI Lucy Harwin novels

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/category/the-lost-children/

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2017/10/19/dying-breath-helen-phifer/

 

Last Breath Published by Bookouture on November 16th 2018, available to pre-order on Amazon now

Dying Breath Helen Phifer

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Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin is back in another realistic crime thriller.

When I reviewed The Lost Children, the first book in the DI Harwin series, I said how good it was to read a book that portrayed a criminal investigation properly. The right ranks-to-roles, the correct terminology, the attitudes and ethos’s of the officers and the relationships between departments. It was one of my favourite reads and put Helen onto the list of my favourite authors

This book is just as good.

The story focuses on two eras’: Lucy and her team investigating a series of modern day crimes; and an anonymous boy growing up with his aunty in the 80’s and 90’s.

The boy growing up is obviously a deviant, and it’s not hard to conclude that he is going to be part of today’s crimes; but what part, and who is he?

There are several candidates but I didn’t guess which one was the murderer until it was revealed on the last few pages. Up until that point it could still have been any one of them.

Lucy and her team pick up the investigation into the murder of a woman who is found battered to death and posed in an unlikely position.

She is the first but not the last. Each victim is killed in a way that appears planned but random. Is Brooklyn Bay in the grips of a crime epidemic or a serial killer.

With each murder being committed in a different manner the team are struggling to link them. When the skeletal remains of a woman are uncovered in some woods Helens boss DCI Tom Crowe decides she needs help and drafts in DI Patrick Baker to take over the body in the woods investigation

Lucy conducts most of her investigation with DS Matthew Jackson, her friend and safety net against getting herself in trouble with the bosses. The rest of her team all take an active part in the investigations, and all have their own character that gives the team a great dynamic. The team are good, highly motivated officers, so when DI Baker appears apathetic Lucy soon starts to lose her cool with him.

This book doesn’t look so deeply at the private lives of some books but we know enough about Lucy and her team to build allegiances. I like Lucy and the connection she has with her team so I felt every frustration she had with Baker. That must be the indication of a good writer.

As the two sides of this story headed for a massive collision at the end of the book I found myself sitting for hours glued to the screen of my Kindle.

Helen Phifer has written another great book that has kept her in my top authors list and I cannot wait for the next instalement.

Pages: 269

Published by Bookouture

Publishing Date: 23rd November 2017

Available to pre-order on Amazon

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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