#Review Dark House by @helenphifer1 @bookouture #DILucyHarwin #CrimeFiction #Series #MooreAsylum

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Dark House by Helen Phifer
synopsis:

A shadowy figure in the dark was dragging something heavy behind them. Lizzy pulled the covers over her head, then realised what was being dragged…

For years, the Moore Asylum housed the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But now, a man is found brutally murdered in the derelict building, strapped to a steel trolley, launching a terrifying investigation for Detective Lucy Harwin.

Lucy quickly discovers the victim was once a Moore Asylum doctor, and when a woman also linked to the home is found murdered on her doorstep, Lucy knows she must dig into its history. What dark secrets lie within the asylum’s walls – what was the scandal leading to its closure thirty years ago?

With her own demons to fight, Lucy starts to uncover the heartbreaking tale of the Moore Asylum children, and begins to wonder: who will be the next victim?

My review:

Detective Lucy Harwin #1
A new series by an author whose novels I have previously enjoyed!
I was quite easily #Sold!
I realised the second the series, Dying Breath was due for release and decided to catch up with the first in the series beforehand!
So hold fire, my review for Dying breath, will be following shortly!

The synopsis details the location of Brooklyn Bay and more importantly the crumbling Moore Asylum! Once a home for mentally ill children, the asylum is now a decaying mess left to rot. Much like its patients of 30 years ago. But what was the scandal that finally closed the asylum?

The prologue opens back in September 1975, there are several chapters from this era which slowly unravel the brutality rolled out within the asylum’s walls.
The prologue tells us about Alice (15yrs) and Lizzy (9yrs), their budding friendship and what they witness happen to little Tommy with his ‘treatment’.
Make sure you hug and kiss your children, before you tuck in to read!

The Moore asylum ‘treated’ a wide range of children’s needs. From those who are mentally ill, to those who would nowadays, live with their families in a much more accepting society. I myself, am the mother of an 11-year-old autistic boy. Who has exhausted main stream education settings. I was well aware, as I turned the pages, had he been born within a different era. Life wouldn’t have been so beautiful for him.
The mistreatment and abuse of children in settings, originally designed to protect and nurture them, is mainstream news. It is still happening to this very day!
But back in the 1970s, with fewer safeguards, abuse was rife!

DI Lucy Harwin is called to the derelict asylum, with reports of a dead body at the scene. Lucy, her partner Mattie and pathologist Dr Catherine Maxwell discover that the body appears to have sustained, a death inducing injury, similar to that of a lobotomy!
But who would want to lobotomise an old man? Why choose this location? And who is the victim?

Lucy’s personal life unravels throughout the novel and she makes for a likeable character and protagonist. Lucy is a career copper and has at times put duty before her family. Ultimately paying the toughest price in the breakdown of her marriage. Her teenage daughter now blames her and is rebelling beyond Lucy’s reach.
Lucy has it far from easy………

The case advances at an easy pace, allowing the reader to fully absorb all the details. The past of the asylum is explored and there are chapters from the killer’s perspective. I was gripped on the chapters from September 1975. I was desperate to learn more about the asylum and its former patients/inmates.

When another dead body is discovered, and the victim also has links to the asylum. The coppers know, the answers lie in the past.
How many more lives must be destroyed at the Moore asylum?

This novel is a police procedural, mixed with a creepy asylum backstory. The characters are interwoven perfectly!

HP
Helen Phifer
Authors links:
Website: https://www.helenphifer.com/
Twitter: @helenphifer1

#Review Degrees Of Darkness by @TonyJForder @Bloodhoundbook #CrimeFiction

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Degrees Of Darkness by Tony J Forder
Synopsis:
A gripping serial killer thriller

Pre-teen girls are being abducted from their homes and their families murdered. When Frank Rogers, once a DI with the Met and now running his own debt collection agency, is told that his own daughter is missing, his son murdered, he naturally wants to become involved with the case.

Soon Frank’s face is all over the news. In an unexpected turn of events, the killer contacts the police and says he is willing to talk, but only to Frank.

When the body of the first abducted girl is discovered, Frank realises it is a race against time to save his daughter.

In order to solve the case, Frank must work out how the killer is picking his victims.

But how do you catch a murderer who is hiding in plain sight? And can Frank unravel the mystery, when he has so much to lose?

My review:

Author Tony J Forder has previously appeared on my blog for a guest post spot, and I knew his novels were very dark in theme! But just how dark, was quite terrifying!
The novel has some dark and disturbing characters, which makes this an exceptional serial killer thriller!

The novel opens as Janet Rogers checks on her children Gary (8yrs) and Laura (12yrs) before bed! Within three hours the family will be dead, and Laura abducted into the cold dark night!
The depiction of the abduction sets the pace/tone of this novel. If you can’t hack that, then don’t read any further……….

“I am the dark, Laura”

Frank Rogers is an ex-MET detective, turned debt collector. He separated from his wife Janet a year ago. A marriage broken by Frank’s dedication to his career. When DCI Nicky Loizou, best mate and upstanding copper, arrives at Frank’s workplace. Frank knows this must mean bad news! Nicky offers Frank access to evidence and official findings. So that Frank may work the case incognito.

It soon becomes clear the murders/abduction, aren’t a single crime but the work of a serial offender. The killer has destroyed seven families previously and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon! He won’t stop, until the police catch him!

“What I don’t understand right now is why he takes them. What does he want with them?” – Frank

Franks appears emotionless and I put this down to him being in shock and having the experience of a seasoned detective. Frank knows how these cases play out, he can predict the next move of the police. He is desperate to have his daughter back to safety. But he is also aware, hasty actions lead to mistakes!
Frank is a difficult character to debate. Did I warm to him, no. but did I think he was fascinating and intelligent, yes.
Frank’s experience and knowledge of killers, plays a significant role in making this plot work. Listening to Frank’s thoughts summarising the case, is haunting and yet compelling!
Frank knows that as you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares right back at you!

“Sometimes you had to bend the rules. Perhaps soon would come the time to break them”

One thing is for certain, the killer that lurks amongst the pages of this novel is a monster in a human guise.
There are chapters written from the killers thoughts and they make your skin crawl; terrifying and disturbing, yet I must read on………..

As the bodies begin to pile up. The detectives become aware, they are facing one of the sickest killers in their entire careers. Then the killer (using an alias of Oscar) calls in and begins to taunt Frank of his daughter’s dire situation.
Can Frank catch a killer? Or will Frank become a monster too?

Read, Degrees Of Darkness and decide for yourself…………

TJF
Tony J Forder
Author links:
Website: https://www.tonyjforder.com/
Twitter: @TonyJForder