125. The Secret Child (DI Amy Winter Book 2) by Caroline Mitchell

Kindle – 330 Pages

Published by – Thomas & Mercer March 7th 2019

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?

I’ve been in a rut lately, were no book has grabbed my attention and where the words on the page stay as just that, words. It is a rut I haven’t really been able to get out of. It started with my head cold and moved though that to my insomnia and hasn’t really given me a chance to enjoy the books I love.

However, on Monday morning, between working and an obscene amount of printing, I started to read this, the sequel to ‘Truth and Lies’ which I read earlier this month. My first impressions were ones of gladness and curiosity. I was glad that Amy had managed to get through all that had happened to her in book one, and still come out fighting in the beginning of this, book 2. Curiosity because the act of kidnapping is always rather artfully written in crime books and I could tell that this particular kidnapping was going to be rather explosive and keep me guessing.

The 1984 chapter had already caught my attention and by chapter 5 I knew that there was going to be a twisted and dark story to be had out of the book.

I found this easy to read. Monday’s are always hard in terms of having to go back to work and whether I’ve got enough sleep. This helped bridge the gap between those two and kept me running through the day. I had no issue with the language being used and I understood everything that was happening within the book. The characters were clean cut and the scenes were discussed with enough detail for me to recreate.

I didn’t like the portrayal of Adam in the first book and I liked him less in this one. His actions filled me with anger, and I couldn’t believe he was so selfish in his motives. His character really irked me to the point that I actively didn’t want to read about him. I had to stop myself from skimming over his parts because I still wanted to know the story, I just hated his character. By chapter forty-seven I wanted to rip Adam apart and force feed him his own body parts. An extreme reaction, I know, but I found his action inexcusable.

Luka was such a treat of a character with a mind full of manipulations and misdirection’s. The way he executed his plan left me feeling chilled to the bone. He became more than just a character to fear and a character to be brought to justice. He became a victim, he became redeemable. His turn of behaviour made me think about how he had reached that place and what driving force had put him there. Dr Curtis, was, for all his money and awards, a despicable man. How many people treated others so horrendously under the guise of ‘the greater good’, or to help ‘science’s hand’?

The characters that were new to this book definitely made me think about the actions we make as humans and how an action that can seem justified by our own eyes can be seen as horrific or criminal by the eyes of another.

There was a real emphasis on the characters in the first book of this series so I was expecting there to be a heavy reflection on them in this book as well. I learnt more about the characters and that helped me to understand the reasons behind how they worked.

Visualisation was easy. I had a better picture in this book than I did with the first. Character development was still very important with this book but I took the time to familiarize myself with the scenes and the details as I find them more important in a story involving a kidnapping. I was able to fully understand what I was reading and could clearly picture all that was happening.

I kind of figured that Lillian Grimes was a character of the past. I didn’t expect her to still be a key player in this book. She’s a character who makes my skin crawl. I shiver unpleasantly when I have to read about her or any interaction with her and another character. She is definitely a character I don’t enjoy reading about, which makes her evil nature more sinister. DCI Pike has become a ‘meh’ character for me. I don’t particularly see her any one way. I don’t see her as a character who makes much of a difference, and rather, view her as a petty irritating character that doesn’t bring much to the table.

It’s clear to me now that Lillian Grimes is a key point in the development of this series and the growth of the characters, especially Amy and Sally-Ann. I think that when I read the first book, ‘Truth and Lies’, I saw the story of Lillian Grimes as being a plot for the first book and not as an undercurrent plot that would continue through the series. I’m not mad at it, the inclusion of it in this book and they way Amy’s involvement was revealed, gave me a different opinion of the characters involved and offered new views from how it was perceived by other characters.

I think it will come to a climax in book 3 – if there is to be a book 3 – and I hope it is laid to rest there. I think if the plot continues through more than three books, it will become an annoying and overworked plot bunny. Even when reading this, I was a little like, ‘come on, enough about Lillian Grimes, lets get on with the real plot.’ Just like with TV series, I get irritated when a plot line is spread on too long.

I figured it out way before the reveal, which filled me with disappointment really. I had hoped that there would be more of a twist, but I felt that the chapters from the 1980s revealed too much too quickly. I had expected them to include several red herrings and midway through the book when I had my theory that came true, I remember thinking ‘surely not, surely it will be more complicated than this’. For me, that knowledge that what I had so accurately guessed was true, diminished the plot for me slightly. I was expecting more, I think. Amy is a talented Detective and I felt like the plot let her down slightly because, in my minds eye, I feel she should have worked it out sooner.

This book was gripping and had a plot line that kept me captivated throughout reading. Elements of Amy’s past, which we’d learnt in the first book, came into play with more force here but the explanation of her life was awarded reading time in a way that pushed Amy into a positive life and gave credit to the life she’d come from. Having everything out in the open made me view Amy as a more powerful and determined character and made her strength all the more prominent.

The ending was exactly how I predicted and then I was circled back to the sub-plot I mentioned above. I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. I think it took away from the books main plot a little. It was less about a chaotic ending and more about tying up loose ends and prepping the reader for what was to come next, but I felt it lacked excitement.

It’s more of a 3.5/5 really!

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