Source: Review copy
Publication: 30 June 2022 from One More Chapter
My thanks to One More Chapter for an advance copy for review
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…
This book comes with a trigger warning – and while generally I’m not a fan of those, in this case I think it’s well merited. Michael Wood’s book is about the trauma and long term devastating impact of child abuse. It’s not for the faint-hearted and does deal with some violence as well as abuse.
D.C.I. Matilda Darke and her team at the Major Crimes Unit in South Yorkshire are still struggling after the events of the last two books. Could this be the case that finally brings them to their knees?
The Lost Children pulls no punches. It propels Matilda and her team into the depths of depravity and corruption and leads to them investigating multiple cases of historic child abuse.
It begins with a vicious murder which is sensitively portrayed but brutal nonetheless. Prominent businessman Richard Ashton has been savagely murdered and the killer has forced a pretty disgusting thing on him. But this prominent civic figure is not the beneficent figure he always presented.
Delving deeper into Ashton, Matilda and her team uncover a series of terrible stories all connected to the former children’s home, Magnolia House. Sian is still struggling so by Matilda’s side is DI Christian Brady. He is finding this case more emotionally disturbing than anyone expected.
Cold cases are always difficult and this one is proving especially so. The team’s best hope is to track down boys who were at the home before t closed and see if they can get other victims to come forward. But that’s not as easy as it should be. No-one wants to talk and at every turn, Matilda’s efforts are thwarted and diverted by her superiors who are intent on focussing her work on other matters.
But more killings take place and Matilda is not one for being cowed. Setting up camp at home she and her team take working from home during Covid to the limit. But her movements are being carefully watched and more than one warning is shot across her bows. After everything she has been through, you’d think this might be the last straw, but Matilda rises to the challenge and in so doing gets back some of her lost mojo.
These are characters that you root for and their development is critical to the success of this series. Matilda and Adele are good for each other and living on the same house is working well. Scott is beginning to find an interest in life again and Sian is considering some drastic measures to get her life back.
The killer too is sensitively portrayed and their perspective is well handled. Despite the crimes they have committed, the reader would have to be very hard-hearted not to feel sympathy for what they have undergone.
By the end of this book, it’s clear that there are many changes underway. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen. But the reader’s interest never wanes and we care about what will happen to these characters.
Verdict: The Lost Children is heart-breaking and emotive. Michael Wood balances this well with some moments of laughter and some heart-racing drama as well as the more harrowing stories of abuse. Fantastic plotting and an authentic storyline make this book an unputdownable read. Never one to give his characters an easy ride, Wood nonetheless makes you care about each and every one of them. I look forward eagerly to the next installment.
Michael Wood is a crime writer based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, which is the setting for his thriller series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. He spends his days writing and researching new and inventive ways of killing people off for future DCI Darke novels as well as other projects he has up his sleeve.