The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell

Today I am delighted to share my thoughts on The Secret Child, book two in the DI Amy Winter series by Caroline Mitchell. I’m ashamed to say that I have had this on my TBR for quite some time, but as I am reviewing book three next week, it seemed the perfect time to play catch up and, thanks to a few long walks and the wonder that is audible, I did just that. Here’s what it’s about:

Source: Audible

About the Book

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?

Available from: Amazon

My Thoughts

Well this is a book that is full of tension, intrigue and mystery and that’s for sure. A missing child, scientific trials, a race against the clock and a dark history that holds the key to successfully solving the case … Caroline Mitchell sure knows how to hook readers and keep them glued to the page until the very end.

This is book two in the DI Amy Winter series and I am loving getting to know that little bit more about Amy with each book. She is no stranger to having a dark history, something which continues to haunt her throughout this book, her biological mother, Lillian Grimes, refusing to slip quietly into the past. In fact, if anything, she makes Amy’s life a whole lot more complicated this time around. If you haven’t read book one I really do recommend that you do before setting off on this particular adventure as there is a pretty significant crossover. It leads to an unnecessary distraction for Amy from what is already a very complicated case.

What I really enjoyed about this story was the complicated feelings it stirred up in me. You don’t ordinarily expect to feel sympathy, or empathy even, for one of the bad guys and yet, with Luka, it was definitely an emotion that came to the fore more than you would anticipate. For reasons that become apparent as you read, he feels compelled to exact a kind of reckoning on people from his very troubled past. I found myself understanding what had driven him to the point of no return and yet there is no denying his actions are misguided and completely reprehensible. And yet in Amy he finds a kind of kindred spirit and it felt as though there was perhaps the smallest chance of redemption, or forgiveness, for him.

I really like the characters the author has created in this series. The complicated relationship between Amy and Lillian aside, there are also the bonds between her and her team, notably Paddy and, surprisingly, DC Steve Moss who had at one point seemed like a natural antagonist to create friction in the team. We learn a little more about him this time around too and I can feel myself slowly warming to him. There is still the normal tension and pressure from up above in the form of DCI Pike who is often as much of an obstruction as she is help. The way in which their particular story concludes certainly opens up things for an interesting third instalment.

The tension in the book peaks and troughs in line with the natural flow of the investigation. From scenes where Luka has Amy racing across London in the hopes of finding the missing girl, through to the scenes in which ihe presents the worried parents with an ultimatum, Caroline Mitchell really keeps readers on edge. Add in the scenes where we learn more about Luka’s past, scenes where you will left feeling more than a little uncomfortable about what has happened, and you are left with an often intense read that really holds your focus. And despite the who being obvious from the start, the author still manages to throw in a few surprises to keep us on our feet. I did have my suspicions about one of the characters quite early on, but I was still caught out by the conclusion. The clues are all there if you look back, but you do need to be paying close attention to pull them all together.

Another very satisfying read – looking forward to reading book three even more now.

About the Author

A former police detective, Caroline Mitchell now writes full-time.

She has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims—high-risk victims of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. The mental strength shown by the victims of these crimes is a constant source of inspiration to her, and Mitchell combines their tenacity with her knowledge of police procedure to create tense psychological thrillers.

Originally from Ireland, she now lives in a pretty village on the coast of Essex with her husband and three children.

Author links: Twitter | Website

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