This, the third in the Alice Quentin series has our protagonist leaving Guy’s to carry out a study of psychopaths at Northwood. She is leaving London and her work with the Metropolitan Police as an advisor following the trauma of her last case with them, A Killing of Angels.
This book has a very strong story-line which links the present crimes to those committed by infamous Louis Kinsella who had killed young girls years previously and was the subject of renowned psychologist Alan Nash’s published study. In the present day a killer is pursuing young girls and presenting them in cardboard coffins dressed up in a Victorian white dress as were worn by the foundlings who were taken into the Foundling Hospital in London, before sending Louis Kinsella a token in a macabre imitation of the tokens originally given to the children by those families who hoped to reclaim their children when the hospital originally opened.
As in the previous books in this series The Crossbones Yard and A Killing of Angels our protagonist’s character is well-defined and likeable. Alice’s family is still the backdrop to the main plot but continues to give the reader an insight into her beginnings and why she sometimes reacts the way she does. The other characters are also realistic, obviously readers of the whole series will have already met DCI Don Burns but there are also a whole host of new characters to get to know and to confuse the investigation.
The plot is well thought out, the whodunit had me totally fooled although in no way undermined by the preceding story. With a pace that is swift but not so much so that this feels like there is too much packed into the story and despite the harrowing story-line none it is not gruesome. I like the fact that as in Crossbones Yard the story links back to historical fact. Alice visiting the exhibitions at the Foundling Museum had the hair on the back of my neck standing on end because this part is not a story, it really happened. To add the feeling of claustrophobia and horror England is gripped in the midst of a snowy winter and it is testament to the author’s skill in that I felt chilled to the bone.
I’m sure this book would read well as a standalone book as there is no complex story arc. This is my favourite book of the series mainly because of the link to the historical background and I have my fingers crossed that Kate Rhodes has another book in the pipeline.
I’d like to thank the publishers Hodder & Stoughton who gave me a copy of this book in return for my honest review. The Winter Foundlings was published on 14 August 2014.
Previous Books in the Alice Quentin Series
A Killing of Angels