The Lost Children – Helen Phifer

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3*

Lizzie 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. Can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing to lose?

The Lost Children is the first book in a new police procedural series. We are introduced to Lucy and her colleagues which sets the tone for the next instalments.

The first chapter tells us of some of the children who were patients at the asylum in the seventies. One of the children disappears from the ward and nine year old Lizzy quickly realises what happened to him.

The case the detectives are working on starts out most intriguingly. When a body is found in the abandoned asylum, it doesn’t take long for them to find a connection to the past. Can the killer be stopped before they strike again?

I must admit, I’m a little disappointed in this book. The blurb sounded right up my alley but it didn’t deliver for me. I found it quite predictable, not helped by some chapters from the killer’s point of view, which pretty much gave everything away.

Lucy seems to have some sort of sixth sense. She has all the ideas and solutions, making decisions without involving her boss. The answers sometimes just drop into her lap instead of being the result of hard-hitting investigative work. It’s a little hard to explain but it just didn’t work for me. There are a few other things that bothered me but I can’t go into detail about those because that would involve revealing half the plot.

I also would have preferred to learn a lot more about the circumstances of the children back in the day. As it is, there are a few mentions of what life was like for them but nothing too profound or in-depth. Things happened that could have done with an explanation but that never came. Then along the way, the story started to focus more on Lucy’s private life which completely threw me off. While I understand character development is important when setting up a new series, the asylum storyline had so much more potential that I feel was left unfulfilled.

Nevertheless, it’s a quick read and there are worse ways to be spending an afternoon.

I would like to thank Bookouture and Netgalley for my advanced copy.

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