Published by Mulholland Books
The girl’s body lay on the steps of the Foundling Museum. She was dressed all in white, and tagged with the number 12.
Britain’s most prolific child killer, Louis Kinsella, murdered nine children before he was caught and locked away for life in Northwood high-security hospital. Now someone is carrying on his work. Four girls have disappeared in North London. Three are already dead…
Psychologist Alice Quentin is working at Northwood, hoping for space and time away from her hectic London life. But she’ll do anything to save a child’s life – even if it means sitting down with a charismatic, ruthless killer and putting herself in greater danger than ever before.
The reviews I always find most difficult to write are the ones on books that make me go ‘Meh’. Unfortunately this is one such book.
In ‘The Winter Foundlings’ we find ourselves in a sort of ‘Silence of the Lambs’ set up. Following a spate of kidnap-murders on very young girls around North London, psychologist Alice Quentin is brought in by the police to interview Louis Kinsella, an inmate at a high security hospital for violent criminals. Someone is ‘copycatting’ Kinsella’s work, and with more bodies turning up and one young girl still missing. Quentin is really up against it to get the details she needs from a reluctant Kinsella in order to catch this child murderer and save the 10 year old Ella.
Sounds pretty good, huh? I do enjoy crime fiction and as a psychology graduate myself I revel in plots centred around the female psychologist protagonist. Yet I just could not get excited during this one at all.
It seemed bizarrely like too much and nothing at all was going on all at once. Little mysteries were peppered throughout that I didn’t find at all intriguing, frankly I just found them annoying.
I couldn’t warm to Quentin at all; in fact there were no likeable characters in there for me, and this was possibly due to a severe lack of any real character development – even the ‘disturbingly evil’ Kinsella seemed like his heart wasn’t really in it. There was also an extremely awkward would-be romance, and recurring references to Quentin’s ‘haunted cottage’ that I presume were there to try, and fail, to unsettle the reader and amounted to nothing.
The investigation and the life of Alice Quentin breaks for brief intervals to give us current kidnap victim Ella’s perspective, but even these are no saving grace. Ella is repeatedly referred to as bright beyond her years, and yet this still didn’t explain why her biggest concern seemed to be how cold she was, rather than the violence she was subjected to or the fear in knowing she will soon be dead. And her manipulation to keep her captor sweet was not at all believable from a 10 year old girl, no matter how bright.
With all the beating about the bush, diversion, and focus on things that turned out to have no relevance to the story; there seemed to be an awful lot of irrelevant build up to a climatic event that took all of two pages to occur and abruptly end.
I stuck with it only to see if I was right about who was behind the murders. And no, I wasn’t – but even that didn’t impress me. I felt that if my guy had done it it might have been a better story!
I must point out that this is the third instalment in a series I am not familiar with, and although it works as a standalone in theory, it may be that you’d need to read the first two Alice Quentin novels in order to appreciate her as a character.
Overall, I’m afraid this one didn’t do it for me at all. In these instances I always try to suggest the kind of reader I think it may appeal to – and I suppose if you want an introduction to the crime thriller genre that isn’t too taxing then you may want to give this a go. I have certainly seen some really glowing reviews for it. But it’s not one I would particularly recommend.
My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.