The Lost Children by Helen Phifer

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Lizzy pulled the covers over her head. Then she realised what was being dragged behind the person with the torch. She rammed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from screaming…

For decades, The Moore Asylum was home to the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But ever since a scandal forced its closure, the abandoned building has cast an imposing shadow. Until now – when an elderly man is found dead, his body strapped to a gurney… 

Detective Lucy Harwin, still reeling from a previous case that ended in the devastating murder of a mother and her child, finds herself on the trail of a killer ruthlessly fixated on avenging wrongs. 

What disturbing secrets lie within the asylum’s walls? Together with her partner Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy begins to unearth its terrible history, and the horrors endured by the vulnerable children.

As the attacks escalate and a woman is murdered on her own doorstep, Lucy is forced into a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a twisted individual. But can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing left to lose? 

An absolutely terrifying and gripping thriller that will chill readers of MJ Arlidge, Angela Marsons and Rachel Abbott to the bone. 


The Lost Children is the first in the ‘Detective Lucy Harwin’ series written by Helen Phifer.

When we first meet Lucy she is visiting a police psychologist following an enforced break from the force due to a grisly murder she was unable to prevent – something that haunts her daily. Recovering from the loss of her husband, George, leaving her for a younger woman and taking their troubled teenage daughter with him, Lucy is not particularly impressed with having her head shrunk and when she’s asked to attend a crime scene a few hours before her planned return to work, she can’t move fast enough.

The murder she is called to attend has taken place in the local ‘haunted house’, the old Moore asylum, a rundown abandoned building which seems to have cast a shadow on all who came into contact with it. Once a home for troubled children, self-important doctors and vindictive nurses, the investigation into the Moore Asylum reveals a much more sinister operation that was running in 1975 than the outside world would believe. Alongside her partner, and future potential love interest Mattie Jackson, the force try and close in on a murderer who seems to be targeting people associated with the old asylum. As the shocking story unfolds, we see the danger our protagonists are in, but will they realise who the murderer is in time?

I really enjoyed this book, the writing is engaging, honest and believable, and although there are obviously reveals when it comes to who the murderer is – and smaller plot indicators along the way, this author does not fall into the trap of throwing red herrings down at every available opportunity in the desire to force a ‘twist’ when there doesn’t need to be one. This is hugely refreshing in a time when every book is heralded as having a ‘killer’ or ‘gripping’ twist and you are never surprised when something happens because you have been expecting it all along! That’s not to say this book isn’t exciting – indeed it is, I devoured it over 2 evenings (I was working both days or I’d have read it quicker – and I stayed up until WAY past my bedtime on the first night because I didn’t want to put it down!).

Up until reading this book I had not heard of Helen’s work but now I will be looking out for her debut novel – The Ghost House – and the rest of the Annie Graham series – I can only hope that they are as entertaining and engaging as her newest offering!

Thanks to Bookouture, Helen Phifer and Netgalley for the ARC of this book in return for an honest review.


About the Author:

Helen Phifer author picture

Helen Phifer’s love of reading began with Enid Blyton, before progressing on to Laura Ingals Wilder and scaring herself with Steven King. If she can’t write for any particular reason she finds herself getting itchy fingers and really irritable. She loves reading as much as writing and is also very fond of chocolate, Prosecco, The Lake District, New York, white Zinfandel wine, my children and grandchildren, my friends, porn star martini cocktails, Stephen King, watching scary films, Marilyn Monroe, Melissa McCarthy, Idris Elba, Simon Baker, Spandau Ballet, The Munsters and coffee. In no particular order.




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