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**** - The Institution


THE INSTITUTION

HELEN FIELDS

****

They’re locked up for your safety.

Now, you’re locked in with them.


Dr Connie Woolwine has five days to catch a killer.


On a locked ward in the world’s highest-security prison hospital, a scream shatters the night. The next morning, a nurse’s body is found and her daughter has been taken. A ransom must be paid, and the clock is ticking.


Forensic profiler Dr Connie Woolwine is renowned for her ability to get inside the mind of a murderer. Now, she must go deep undercover among the most deranged and dangerous men on earth and use her unique skills to find the girl – before it’s too late.


But as the walls close in around her, can Connie get the killer before The Institution gets her?


MY REVIEW

****

I have been a fan of Helen Field’s writing since requesting one of the DI Callanach series a few years ago and I have now read nearly every one of her books. After really enjoying The Shadow Man, I was excited to hear that her latest novel - The Institution, also focuses on forensic profiler Connie Woolwine.


When a nurse from a high security prison hospital is found murdered with her baby missing, Connie and Detective Baarda go undercover to solve the mystery - but when the cast of characters includes serial-killers, how can they work out who to trust? The setting of this book is a suitably atmospheric choice to place a crime thriller. The Charles Horatio Parry Institute for the Rehabilitation for the Criminally Insane is remote and highly secure, with a lot of procedures in place to supposedly protect those in its care. The map at the beginning of the book was really helpful to draw a picture of the ward. The serial killers are all really interesting, and the book spends certain chapters introducing each one and the crime he committed which was a great narrative technique and really cast doubt on lots of people. There are plenty of twists and turns as well as a few red herrings, although I had guessed one character’s twist from the outset.


My main disappointment with the book was with main character Connie. As in the previous book, the profiler is intelligent, with an odd way of working and has a real empathy for the victims she works to get justice for. However, in this book she reveals she has PTSD - having been stuck in a similar institute in her childhood. I understand that the author probably wanted to create a flaw for Connie, but I felt some of the choices, such as telling the serial killers the true story of her history, really felt like a departure from her character profile and seemed like very silly mistakes. At the end when she is almost hysterical, I was a little confused as this did not feel like the same character that had been described previously.


The plot builds really well, and the stakes are slowly increased until the ending which changes gear to very fast-paced action. There are some parts of the ending that you needed to suspend your disbelief for, which I haven’t needed to do for any other Helen Fields novels which was a bit of a shame.


Overall, The Institute is a great read with an atmospheric and unique setting, but I struggled with the portrayal of the main character and found I needed to suspend my disbelief for some of the plot points. Thank you to NetGalley & Avon Books UK for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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