Monday 17 July 2023

The Piper's Children, by Iain Henn

I am pleased to be part of the blog tour for Iain Henn's new novel from The Book Folks, The Piper's Children.
A baffling mystery sets an FBI agent on a dangerous path...

Park rangers are puzzled when a child is found wandering alone in the middle of a forest near Seattle.

Stranger still, he speaks a peculiar language that sounds a little like German, and is dressed in clothes people wore in the Middle Ages.

With no one having reported him missing, FBI Special Agent Will McCord assembles a dedicated unit to investigate the case, placing Detective Ilona Farris at its head.

Their relationship is edgy. They used to be an item. But McCord knows Farris is the best person for the job. Especially when more children turn up in similar circumstances.

Farris isn’t convinced that she is in fact the right person. Memories of a traumatic incident in her own childhood begin to emerge, and threaten to cloud her judgement.

Can she bury her demons and solve the mystery of these children, seemingly lost in time?

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My review:

Starting with a bang - and a touch of surrealism - Henn hits the ground running and puts us straight into the story. Ilona Farris is drafted into a newly set up FBI team, headed by her ex-lover, when a boy is found in a Seattle forest speaking German and apparently on the run from the Pied Piper. 

Things get a lot weirder from that point on, but the pacing and structure keep you completely on board at all times. Peopled with believable characters - the best of which is Farris herself, sporting both a secret and a terrifying experience from her childhood that will help the investigation - and a keen sense of location, this works perfectly and is never less than readable. 

Red herrings abound, there’s a lot of suspense and weirdness as well as a plot that makes perfect sense once you discover all the details. I thoroughly enjoyed this and look forward to more stories about the team. Very highly recommended.

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Born in Sydney, Australia, Iain Henn worked for many years in print media production for newspapers, magazines, and direct marketing agencies, and as a writer for small business websites.

He has written fiction from a young age. Somewhere in his house, there is still a framed copy of his first published story, a ‘5-minute fiction’ tale in Woman’s Day. Since then, he has never looked back, having short stories published in various magazines worldwide, and now his suspenseful thrillers and mysteries. 

Commenting on what influenced his writing journey, he describes a moment that has stayed with him. On his first day in his first job, as a teenage messenger boy, he left the office via a back exit into a narrow alleyway where he saw the body of a man crumpled on the ground. He had just jumped out of a window from the neighbouring building. The paramedics were already approaching. When Iain returned an hour or so later, the body and the surrounding activity were gone, there was just a chalk outline on the ground where the body had been. Ever since he has wondered who that man was, what led him to suicide, and what his future might have been had he lived. Decades later, that chalk outline is often on the writer’s mind when telling the stories of his characters’ lives.

Authors who have inspired Iain include Daphne Du Maurier, Ken Follett, Michael Crichton, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Robotham, and Harlen Coben. He lives on the New South Wales coast with his wife.

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