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dear child

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A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.

One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.

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Wow!  Dark, immersive, intriguing, complex, and totally gripping.  A smart new take on a story of a person held captive.

This book has a very dark start, so much so, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a book for me. However, I continued, and was so glad I did.

Told from the viewpoint of a number of extremely well written characters, the story begins with Lena, abducted, she has been held captive, in a cabin in the woods, along with her two children Hannah and Johnathan and their father, her captor.  She has miraculously found a chance to escape, and running through the woods to the road, is hit by a car and badly injured.

The driver has called an ambulance. Lena is taken to hospital, along with her daughter. All they can get from Hannah are their names.  Running a trace the police find a resemblance to a Lena Beck who went missing, after walking home from a party 13 years ago, and the detective who lead the missing persons case and her parents are called.

That is a brief re-cap and I will stop there, as so much of the wonder of reading this book is from it’s structure and the way the author uses the perspectives from each character to build, continuously throughout the story, tracing out not only what is happening now, since her escape, but also during the time of her captivity.

There is an element of concentration needed for this but with such a well written book as this, and brilliantly translated I must add here, it is an extremely clever and gripping read.

The characters are so well thought out. Raw, vulnerable, sinister and the description of the chapters taking place within the cabin are frighteningly vivid.  The adults have that element of  being totally believable yet always , at the edge of my mind, wondering if they could be trusted. Hannah, who is particularly well written, is damaged and vulnerable but also slightly scary too!  This is a dark novel, but my investment in the characters and my need, to know how it ends, made me speed through this and I was utterly hooked.  When the part in the book that made me chuckle was the young girl deciding on which of her red crayons to use to draw the body on the kitchen floor, highlights the nature of this read but it is also much more than that. A great thriller and a great study of people.  Matthias’ obsessive and sometimes destructive hope in finding his daughter, after all these years.  Lena’s behaviour towards her captor and the damage captivity has had on the children, who know no different, is a real study to read.

An intense thriller that gallops along taking you on one hell of a ride!

Dear Child is out in paperback in December and can be purchased from


and most independent book shops


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when we fall



England, 1943. Lost in fog, pilot Vee Katchatourian is forced to make an emergency landing where she meets enigmatic RAF airman Stefan Bergel, and then can’t get him out of her mind.

In occupied Poland, Ewa Hartman hosts German officers in her father’s guest house, while secretly gathering intelligence for the Polish resistance. Mourning her lover, Stefan, who was captured by the Soviets at the start of the war, Ewa is shocked to him on the street one day.

Haunted by a terrible choice he made in captivity, Stefan asks Vee and Ewa to help him expose one of the darkest secrets of the war. But it is not clear where everyone’s loyalties lie until they are tested…

Published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day and based on WWII war atrocity the Katyn massacre, When We Fall is a moving story of three lives forever altered by one fatal choice.


“All of the victims of the Katyn massacre were men, except, remarkably, for one woman. And when I discovered that this woman, Janina Lewandowska, was a pilot, I knew that the Polish experience would become the heart of my novel….The story is fiction, but it is one that I could not have begun to imagine without the remarkable life and death of Janina Lewandowska”
-Carolyn Kirby




This fictional historical novel centres around the real life event of the Katyn Massacre during WW11, where thousands of Polish military were massacred and buried in a mass grave within the Katyn forest.

This story, however, mostly focuses on three main characters away from this tragedy in both England and Poland.

Vee Katchatourian works for the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary, a department I hadn’t heard of before, who, among other things, delivered planes to airfields after manufacture.)  Woman were used as well as men to pilot these planes with very little training.  Impatient to get up in the air, Vee is regarded as some what impulsive and therefore doesn’t always notice the important stuff, but she is keen to do her job and do it well.  She meets Stefan Bergel, an RAF pilot after having to make an emergency landing, which in the book reads to be only a few miles from where i live!  I love making connections likes this in a book, they always help to bring it to life .  As soon as they meet there is a strong connection between the two and Vee can not get him out of her mind.  However Stefan holds many secrets and a very important job to do.  One that Vee later becomes very closely involved in.

Eva Hartman lives in Poland and with her father, runs a guest house for German officers.  Her father seems happy to serve these people, believing it is the best way for both of them, but unknown to him, Eva or Ewa, her real name, is a member of the resistance.  She is very much still Polish and does everything she can to help her country.

The story follows these three characters over a period of time, weaving true details into a moving and brilliantly written, engaging story of WW11 lives.  As the book progresses we read of their heroic acts and the dangers they all encounter.  It cleverly uses the extraordinary  day to day lives of Vee and Ewa, running parallel to each other, to gradually see how these two lives become connected.  I particularly enjoyed the character of Ewa, I warmed to her instantly and loved the way the author wrote this character as she carried out her Resistance work.  I also liked the way she wrote out her thoughts, always knowing what the character was thinking when it was at conflict with what she was saying.

I thought this book was extremely well written and informed me of an event in history I knew nothing about.  It is also a novel that draws you in with it’s wonderfully rich characterisations.  The towns and buildings were vividly described and I found it a very moving and informative read.

When We Fall is out now and can be purchased directly from the publisher where they are currently running a massive 50% discount on physical books, as well as your local bookshop or larger sellers.  I believe there are also signed copies available from Wallingford Bookshop in Wallingford Oxfordshire.