Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: 'The Winter Foundlings' by Kate Rhodes

Kate Rhodes puts her own spin on a well-worn plot device in "The Winter Foundlings." Someone is kidnapping, torturing, and murdering young girls in North London. Now the perpetrator has snatched yet another victim, ten-year-old Ella Williams, who is courageous and mature beyond her years. On the villain's trail is a team of detectives led by DCI Don Burns, who asks psychologist Alice Quentin for assistance. Against her better judgment (she already has plenty of emotional baggage), Alice agrees to help. Burns suspects that a convicted murderer, Louis Kinsella, is in some way connected to these crimes. Although he has been incarcerated for fifteen years in Northwood Hospital for the criminally insane, Kinsella may have inspired a copycat killer.

Alice narrates with cool professionalism, but takes great pains to hide her vulnerability from outsiders. At times, the author switches to the third person to describe how Ella is coping with her terrible ordeal. Rhodes engages us with her compassionate depiction of the walking wounded--men and women who are driven to hurt both themselves and others. At Burns's request, Quentin conducts a series of interviews with Kinsella, who has been stubbornly close-mouthed in the past. Perhaps he will open up to Alice and let something slip that will lead to the abductor's identity.

The suspense builds steadily and abundant red herrings keep us guessing. Burns and his colleagues investigate anyone who may have been close to Louis in the past, but they come up with few leads and time is running out for Ella. Although the subject matter is bleak, wry humor offsets the gloom and there is even a hint of romance for the solitary Alice. "The Winter Foundlings" is an engrossing and edgy thriller that explores why ordinary people commit unspeakable acts.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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