Tuesday 12 August 2014

The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes

The girl was lying on the steps of the Foundling Museum, dressed all in white.
Four girls have disappeared in North London. Three are already dead.
Britain's most prolific child killer, Louis Kinsella, has been locked up in Northwood high-security hospital for over a decade. Now more innocents are being slaughtered, and they all have a connection to his earlier crimes.
Psychologist Alice Quentin is doing research at Northwood. She was hoping for a break from her hectic London life, but she'll do anything to help save a child - even if it means forming a relationship with a charismatic, ruthless murderer.
But Kinsella is slow to give away his secrets, and time is running out for the latest kidnap victim, who is simply trying to survive...

The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes is published by Mulholland Books in hardcover on 14 August 2014.

I don't usually read books out of sequence, but I had no idea that The Winter Foundlings was the third instalment of the Alice Quentin series. However, this really does not detract from the story in any way. The Winter Foundlings works very well as a stand-alone thriller as the author is adept at incorporating snippets of Alice's past into the current storyline. Saying that, I do really want to go back and read the first two in this series; Crossbones Yard (June 2012), and  A Killing of Angels (July 2013).

Alice Quentin is a psychologist and she is usually based in a large London hospital, but has accepted a secondment to Northwood high-secure psychiatric hospital where she is carrying out a research project.

Young girls are being murdered. Four youngsters have gone missing, three bodies have been found and the fourth girl is still missing. The disappearances and killings bear the trademark of Louis Kinsella, a serial killer who is a patient at Northwood. Alice is asked to interview him, to try to get him to shed some light on what is happening.

The Winter Foundlings is a very well researched story that depicts life in a modern high-security hospital extremely well. The author writes authentically about both the patients and the staff of the unit. As a working environment, a high-security hospital is pretty unique and the staff develop a close bond with each other, along with a sense of humour that is often misunderstood. Kate Rhodes has managed to convey the strange world of life behind locked doors and barred windows, whilst still keeping the reader intrigued in a very clever plot that has red herrings and twists and turns throughout.

Alice Quentin is a great character. It is clear that she has battled her own demons, and carries a far bit of baggage about her past. I will be interested to discover more about her relationship with her mother and her brother Will who both appear fleetingly in this story.

The human brain is a complex machine and when a wire becomes loose, or the chemicals within it become unbalanced we are often presented with psychotic and violent behaviour. Louis Kinsella is most certainly a psychopath; extremely intelligent, manipulative and a cold-blooded killer. Kate Rhodes has created a monster who reminded me at times of Hannibal Lector and John Kramer from the Saw movies.

I enjoyed The Winter Foundlings very much. I enjoyed the chase to discover the truth about the killings, I enjoyed the cast of multi-layered and realistic characters and I enjoyed the setting. Kate Rhodes has created an excellent lead character in Alice Quentin, I'm really looking forward to reading more in this series.

My thanks to Mulholland Books who sent my copy for review via the Bookbridgr programme.

Kate Rhodes was born in London. She has taught English at universities in Britain and the United States, and now writes full-time.
Kate is the author of two collections of poetry, Reversal and The Alice Trap. She has been awarded English Speaking Union and Hawthornden Fellowships for poetry, and won the Ruth Rendell Prize in 2014. Kate has also been shortlisted for a number of other prestigious prizes, including the Bridport and Forward Prizes.
Visit Kate's website at www.katerhodes.org or follow her on Twitter @K_RhodesWriter

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