BOOK REVIEW: The Institution by Helen Fields


Title: The Institution
Author: Helen Fields
Publication: March 2, 2023
Publisher: AVON
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Pages: 422


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SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

To beat them, she’ll have to join them…

On a locked ward in the world’s highest-security prison hospital for the criminally insane, a nurse has been murdered and her newborn baby kidnapped. 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 baby – before it’s too late.

She has five days to catch the killer.

But with the walls of The Institution closing in on her, will her sanity last that long?


**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Helen Fields is one of the best in her field and does not shy away from the gore and stomach turning moments some other writers avoid. Her stories are always gritty and dark and filled with twist after twist.

The Institution takes place at an undisclosed location on an island where a psychiatric hospital is home to a select few of the darkest murderers known to man. And then one of the staff is brutally killed and her unborn child is taken from her. Time is obviously of the essence and there is an entire hospital full of suspects. This is the first story I almost didn’t like a single character. Baarda is probably my favorite and he barely speaks because of his part is the story. I wasn’t a huge fan of Connie and her approach, but she definitely gets the job done and has more guts than I do. I loved how I was literally suspicious of every single person the entire time I was reading this story. It wasn’t until the end where I started to slowly weed out the people I thought might not be involved. I mean, how do you not suspect an entire floor of crazed serial killers?

Fields has a great way of building her characters back stories so well that it explains a lot about why they are the way they are and how they function. I think it makes the reading more interesting as you are reading a character and can flash back to a description of their past and understand why they may handle something a completely different way than you would. Fields characters are deep and twisty and can catch you off guard at any time. Connie, in this case, had me feeling all her feelings. Her character had an intriguing backstory for the case she was being put on and I felt her anxiety, I felt her fear, I felt her annoyance. It was a like Connie’s conscious was inside me as I was reading along with her. Not many authors can do that.

My only issue, and I am not sure I can even call it a real issue, is that this book had no location. Meaning, Helen Fields purposefully doesn’t tell us where it takes place. Usually you hear her mention Edinburgh or France or something of that nature, but this one did not and I even reached out to her and she said she purposefully left it off. It does not affect the story AT ALL and it is fantastic in itself, but for me, I love to have a visual in my head of where this is. I still feel this would be off the coast of Scotland or Ireland just by the weather and terrain, but honestly it could be anywhere. I just really felt strongly about wanting to know where it was.

Otherwise, this book was fantastic. If you love thrillers and suspense, any Helen Fields book will be great, but pick up The Institution and let me know if you agree with me. A real nail biter!

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