Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

REVIEW: The Institution by Helen Fields

Published: March 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Hardboiled, Pscyhological Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this unflinching locked-room thriller. Thank you to Avon Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.



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?

A claustrophobic, haunting crime thriller that will keep you up at night, perfect for those who couldn’t put down The Sanatorium and Amy McCulloch’s Breathless.



“The people inside these walls are broken. All of them. It’s bad enough being here against your will. Imagine having so little to live for that of all the places in the world, you would choose to spend the precious years allocated to you in this godforsaken place. “

She’s done it again! A crime fiction powerhouse, Helen Fields can always be relied upon to write sinister, never-shredding stories that leave you breathless. And with The Institution she has done exactly that. This chilling masterpiece certainly packs a punch. The prose is brutal poetry, every word gleaming with malice, and there’s an undercurrent of danger and foreboding running through the pages that made dread crawl up my spine as I read. I couldn’t put it down and devoured the story whole. The many twists, turns, and red herrings left me unable to catch my breath and, as I approached the finale, the threads began to tangle together at breakneck speed. And that ending! I did not see it coming. Bravo, Ms. Fields. Bravo. 

“She turned as she walked, looking around, uncharacteristically spooked. Not that it was ghosts she feared. The killers she was profiling were so much worse than the spectres of myths and legends. Ghosts were simple in comparison.” 

How do you find a killer when you’re surrounded by them? That’s the dilemma facing Dr Connie Woolwine in this dark, twisty and unnerving thriller. Dropped inside of a nightmare, Connie is sent to The Institute, a high-security prison, to investigate the death of Tara, one of the nurses who works there. Tara has been found brutally slain, her unborn daughter ripped from her womb in the attack, and there is a ransom demand for her safe return. With one life already extinguished and another whose clock is ticking down to death, the forensic profiler goes deep undercover to try and find the killer. 

A dark, forbidding and eerie fortress, The Institute houses the criminally insane. It is a cesspit of evil where the worst of society are sent to live out the rest of their days. The saying ‘humans are the scariest of monsters’ has never been more apt, and the humans inside these walls are truly terrifying.  Violent, disturbed, depraved, repugnant and mercurial, you would be crazy yourself if you weren’t scared of these men. And it is amongst them that Connie must live and work, going undercover to find a killer. But when a frightful storm cuts them off from the rest of the world, the only person who knows her real identity is stranded elsewhere, leaving Connie even more vulnerable. 

“Don’t believe anything they tell you. Remember; the truth can be witnessed, but it can never be told.” 

Helen Fields delves deep into the darkness that lurks inside the crevices of a twisted mind in this cast of richly drawn, compelling and completely unreliable characters. Even our protagonist can’t be trusted, the PTSD from her traumatic time in a psychiatric hospital giving her nightmares and making her see and hear things that even she isn’t sure are real. I was delighted to see Connie at the heart of another book after loving her character so much in The Shadow Man. Fierce, tenacious, intelligent and unorthodox, that quirky side is what has endeared her to me so much from the start. I enjoyed how we explored her intricately layered backstory more this time around, and how it intertwines to complicate the investigation in ways she hoped to avoid. Her trauma was powerfully and evocatively written, making my heart race as everything spiralled more and more out of control. I desperately hoped she was going to make it out of this okay and that we get to see more of her in the future.

Deliciously creepy, unflinching and addictive, The Institution gives you everything you could want from a first-class locked-room thriller. It’s Ms. Fields’ best book yet so make sure to add it to your TBR.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮



An international and Amazon #1 best-selling author, Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister. Every book in the Callanach series has claimed an Amazon #1 bestseller flag. ‘Perfect Kill’ was longlisted for the Crime Writers Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in 2020, and others have been longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, Scottish crime novel of the year. Helen also writes as HS Chandler, and has released legal thriller ‘Degrees of Guilt’. In 2020 Perfect Remains was shortlisted for the Bronze Bat, Dutch debut crime novel of the year. In 2022, Helen was nominated for Best Crime Novel and Best Author in the Netherlands. Now translated into more than 20 languages, and also selling in the USA, Canada & Australasia, Helen’s books have won global recognition. She has written standalone novels, The Last Girl To Die, These Lost & Broken Things and The Shadow Man. Her first UK hardback, The Institution, comes out in March 2022. She regularly commutes between West Sussex, USA and Scotland. She lives with her husband and three children. 



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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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