Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Winter Foundlings – Kate Rhodes

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

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.

 

The Foundlings Museum
The Foundlings Museum
Tokens left by families to reclaim their children
Tokens left by families to reclaim their children

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
Crossbones Yard
A Killing of Angels

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

A Killing of Angels – Kate Rhodes

Crime Fiction 4*'s
Crime Fiction
4*’s

Alice Quentin, a psychologist, is back in A Killing of Angels, the second book in this series, the first being Crossbones Yard.

In the middle of a stifling summer in London a banker from Angel Bank is killed, and with his body is found a white feather and a picture of an angel. Detective Inspector Don Burns, now in a new position following his previous case, calls on Alice for assistance in profiling the killer as he fears the perpetrator is not going to stop at one killing; he is right. Alice is reluctant what happened previously had put her off working with the police, but Don Burns is persuasive, and she relents.

This book is firmly rooted in the banking crisis where money means more than life. The pictures of angels also introduces the reader to renaissance art, the juxtaposition of biblical angels with more modern aspects of the media is exceptionally well executed which just adds a feeling of reality to the complexity of the plot.

Kate Rhodes handles the pace of the book with aplomb. The twists are brutal and compelling. Alice’s personal life living with her bi-polar brother gives the story a domestic edge as the realities of her relationship with her mother and brother are explored without detracting from the main plot. As well as her work with the police Alice has a case-load of patients which just adds to her stress levels which she relieves by running through London. There is no doubt in the books setting, the author brings the streets of London to life with her descriptions.

This is a very satisfying sequel where the protagonist is struggling with the aftermath of the previous case. The change is noticeable and it is interesting to have a story arc where events have a profound effect on the character, this isn’t the case for Alice and she makes some errors of judgement which to me only served to feel that she is ‘real.’

I am looking forward to the next in this series, The Winter Foundlings published later this month.