Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Lost Children, the latest book in the Matilda Darke series by Michael Wood. My thanks to publisher One More Chapter for the advance copy via Netgalley. After the explosive revelations in the last book, I have been keen to see just what the fallout might be for the team. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
APRIL 2020: LOCKDOWN
DI Brady has been tracing victims of systemic abuse at a local children’s home after a high-profile accusation pitched it into the spotlight – a case that couldn’t be more personal.
As Matilda and her team piece together the disturbing picture of the history of the home, it soon becomes clear that this is much bigger than they ever suspected.
But nothing prepares them for what they uncover next…
The Lost Children is an utterly gripping crime thriller weaving a breakneck tale of a vast network of secrets and lies, a relentless detective determined to sabotage it, and a murder that shatters two decades of silence.
Well. If you were wondering if whether of not Michael Wood can keep up the relentless pace in his Matilda Darke series, and whether the next tale would be as emotive and shocking as those that have come before, wonder no longer. The answer is a resounding yes. Sure, it’s not going to have quite the explosively emotional pull of Time Is Running Out, maybe not even the jaw dropping revelation of Survivor’s Guilt, but it still packs a punch, one that hits right at the heart of the team. This time it is DI Christian Brady who features pretty much centre stage, with an emotional attachment to the case which goes far beyond his being a dedicated career officer. The consequences are stark, the impact on the team far reaching. This is yet another game changer and one that left me wanting more.
Featuring themes of child abuse, this is a book with quite a dark heart, but one in which enough of the story is spelt out to make the suffering of the victims felt, both at the time of the abuse and in the intervening years, but that also keeps the worst of the atrocities off the page. Not that there is any doubt about what has happened, or the way in which there has been an absolute abuse of power, but with the violence meted out against the perpetrators, I don’t think you really need a graphic exploration of abuse to be able to understand the horrors endured. Michael Wood has never shied away from quite dark and twisted methods of dispatch for the victims of his novels, and he certainly hasn’t this time. Not the first time I’ve seen this particular method employed and it’s certainly effective and sends a very clear statement.
Set during 2020, the book does fall within the time of the pandemic, which brings with it it’s own set of challenges in investigating the initial murder. But that is the least of the teams worries, and whilst not ignoring best working practice and legislation on a party-gate scale, they certainly push work bubbles to the very limits. Needless to say tempers are running high and mistakes are made that have catastrophic consequences. It adds tension and conflict to an already strong storyline. There are some very big changes afoot for the team and I’m not quite sure how the author is going to spin it going forward but I am very curious to learn.
Characters really are key in this series and Matilda Darke and the team are a brilliant bunch, people I enjoy catching up with. There has been significant change for them all over the course of the past few books, not less so that Sian and Matilda and both are struggling as you would expect. I like seeing the more vulnerable part of Matilda, if you get what I mean. She has always been impacted by emotion, but now she is also dealing with fear and whilst it does show an impact, seeing her overcome it and achieve what she does best always brings a smile to my face. I felt as though we go to know a lot more about Christian too, far from the over professional, somewhat contained personality we have seen in other books. He is driven by passion and anger this time around and it’s good to see that side of his character set free.
The book sees several story arcs brought to a conclusion, but do no fear. Whilst we might say goodbye to a few familiar faces, it’s in no way as dramatic a fashion as of late. Not sure my nerves could cope with that. Then again, as nice as the author has been in certain circumstances, we have to mention that ending. So full of promise, and threat, I can’t wait to see how it pans out.
Dark, tense, twisted and thrilling. I loved it. So glad I found this series. Roll on book ten. I think …
About the Author
Michael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.