The Secret Child – Caroline Mitchell @caroline_writes

DI Amy Winter knows evil. She’s lived through it.

Four-year-old Ellen is snatched by a stranger in the dead of night. Her devastated mother, Nicole, receives four identical phials and a threatening note in a familiar scrawl that chills her to the bone. But she always knew this would happen. She’s been expecting it for years . . .

According to the note, one of the phials is poisoned. Nicole is given a deadly challenge: if she drinks one, the sadistic kidnapper will notify the police of Ellen’s location. The sender claims to be Luka Volkov but Luka is supposed to be dead, killed long ago in a fire that haunts all those involved.

DI Amy Winter is still reeling from the discovery that she is the daughter of a serial killer, and her childhood trauma only makes her more determined to bring Ellen home. When another child is taken, Amy finds herself in a race against time. To rescue the children, must she seek help from the one person she wants to forget?

The Secret Child was published on the 7th March by Thomas & Mercer. Many thanks to the author for my copy of the book via NetGalley for this review.

We first met DI Amy Winter in Truth and Lies and I was absolutely over the moon to find out book 2 was on it’s way! As we found out in book 1 (and it’s in the blurb so no spoilers here!!), Amy’s biological mother is the notorious Lillian Grimes, a psychopathic serial killer who is in prison so I couldn’t wait to find out how Amy was getting on with this news and what happens next.

The Secret Child opens with a chilling kidnapping of 4-year-old Ellen from her ben…now I check all the doors are locked before going to bed normally but most definitely double checked that night! Amy and her team are quickly assigned to the case but are told to handle it with care due to who the child’s father is. However, Amy finds the whole situation odd from the outset given the delays in reporting her abduction.

The creepy factor goes up a notch when Nicole, Ellen’s mother, receives phials with a letter in the handwriting of a dead man….mind blown!!

I really enjoyed this storyline, it took an interesting turn when we hear from Luka in the past to explain how he came to know Ellen’s family. I do love a dual timeline!!

The Secret Child is more than a police procedural, investigating the disappearance of a child – it is also an exploration into the impact serial killers have upon their children. Amy is traumatised by the revelation that she is the daughter of serial killers and starts to question herself – even though she was raised by her loving adoptive parents, the truth has brought about harrowing nightmares of her time with her biological parents. There is the question hanging over Amy as to which is stronger, nature or nurture. A fascinating subject and backdrop for this series.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Child, a brilliant, fast-paced and gripping investigation with a fascinating protagonist and antagonist. As for Lillian Grimes, definitely a villain I love to hate!!

Caroline Mitchell

Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, she has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time.

Caroline writes psychological and crime thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim reached No.1 in the Amazon charts in the UK, USA and Australia. It has been described as ‘brilliantly gripping and deliciously creepy’.

Set in Notting Hill, London, her new DI Amy Winter thriller, Truth and Lies, is published by Thomas & Mercer.

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