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The Collector #3

The Summer Children

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2018)
This FBI agent has come to expect almost anything—just not this…

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning. He tells her a chilling tale: an angel killed his parents and then brought him here so Mercedes could keep him safe.

His parents weren’t just murdered. It was a slaughter—a rage kill like no one on the Crimes Against Children team had seen before. But they’re going to see it again. An avenging angel is meting out savage justice, and she’s far from through.

One by one, more children arrive at Mercedes’s door with the same horror story. Each one a traumatized survivor of an abusive home. Each one chafing at Mercedes’s own scars from the past. And each one taking its toll on her life and career.

Now, as the investigation draws her deeper into the dark, Mercedes is beginning to fear that if this case doesn’t destroy her, her memories might.

300 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 22, 2018

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About the author

Dot Hutchison

7 books3,379 followers
Dot Hutchison is the author of A Wounded Name, a young adult novel based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, and the adult thriller The Butterfly Garden.

With past experience working at a Boy Scout camp, a craft store, a bookstore, and the Renaissance Faire (as a human combat chess piece), Hutchison prides herself on remaining delightfully in tune with her inner young adult.

She loves thunderstorms, mythology, history, and movies that can and should be watched on repeat.

For more information on her current projects, visit www.dothutchison.com or check her out on:

Tumblr https://www.dothutchison.tumblr.com


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,655 reviews
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
381 reviews1,644 followers
July 6, 2018

F.B.I Agent Mercedes Ramirez arrived at her home and finds a child on her front doorstep, covered in blood, holding a teddy bear. He tells her that an angel brought him to her, so that she can keep him safe. Agent Ramirez works for The Crimes Against Children. The angel murders parents that abuse their children, then drops them off at Mercedes door. Lots of children are being dropped off, one at a time. They are all traumatized.

This is the third book in The Collector Series. Out of the whole series, I loved The Butterfly Garden, the best. I also loved Roses of May, but I loved this one a lot better than that one. This series is very dark and graphic.

I was immediately drawn into the story and didn t want to let go until the very end. It is a very intense book and I was captivated. It is a very fast paced read and a page turner and thought it was very creative. It is dark and disturbing, with tough subject matter. Lots of emotions to this story with a great plot. I did find it a little predictable.

I felt like the author did a great job on the character development of her characters. She brings them to life. I loved the characters and felt that they were realistic. I love Mercedes, the best. I can't wait to read book 4.

I want to thank Netgalley, Thomas & Mercer and Dot Hutchison for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
773 reviews4,637 followers
July 29, 2019
A compelling and emotional thriller!

This book took a positive turn for me after book 2. I really enjoyed Mercedes' POV - she's such a strong character. Dot Hutchinson breathes so much life and emotion into her characters. You can't help but get caught up in the case right along with them.

*The storyline was graphic and involved children who suffered abuse and/or neglect at the hands of their parents which isn't easy to read about so it's definitely important to go in knowing that for sensitive readers.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,127 followers
May 20, 2018
#1 The Butterfly Garden ★★★★★
#2 Roses of May ★★★★☆
#3 The Summer Children ★★★★★

I have positively adored this entire trilogy so much, and this was the perfect conclusion, even if I am sad to see it draw to a close. While the books do not follow the exact same plot line and probably could be read as stand-alones if you so desired, I do strongly recommend reading them in their publication order!

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was afraid of change. She went out bravely into the world anyway.

If you’ve read these books before, you may remember that book 1 centered on Vic, and book 2 centered on Eddison; in book 3, we finally get to see things through the eyes of Mercedes Ramirez, the 3rd FBI agent in the original trio. Not only do we get to spend more time with the gang, we also get to know Agent Sterling much better, as the events in book 2 led to her being promoted to join the team in book 3. With that backstory out of the way, let me say that—while I love Vic and Eddison to no end—Ramirez had my single favorite perspective of each of the books.

If you were afraid of something in the light, wasn’t it just good sense to be more afraid of it in the dark?

Mercedes Ramirez has been an FBI agent for nearly a decade, but we didn’t learn much about her in the first two installments, aside from the fact that she is Latinx, a lesbian, and has a very personal stake in the business of saving children from their assailants and abductors. In this book, we slowly get to piece together why Ramirez’s job means so much to her—aside from just the comfort of knowing she saved these poor kids—and it’s a rough ride, but a worthwhile one.

It’s one of his gifts: let me distract you, let me fill the silence for you, until you decide there’s something you need to say.

We also get to see a brand new side of Eddison, which I loved; through Vic’s POV, he’s the team clown, and through his own POV, he’s a very serious, older-brother type, but through Ramirez’s eyes, we find the true Eddison, which is something right in the middle. He’s so caring and a total teddy bear, but he’s also fiercely protective, and I loved getting to know him more.

I suppose if you’re the guardian at the gates for a dragon, you can’t help but be pleased when she roars.

I also was delighted to see Sterling come into her own as a character, though it made me a little bit sad that, so far, this is confirmed to be the final book, because now I can’t help but want Sterling to get a POV in a 4th book, too! She’s such a delight and is absolutely brilliant while subverting a tremendous number of gender roles and expectations, and I thought she was a stellar addition to the team.

“I honestly don’t know if you’ve seen Vic when he’s about to rain down fire and destruction.”

Of course, last but not least is Vic, who has taken on a management role but is still incredibly hands-on and more than capable of taking care of his agents, who are practically his kids in every sense but the biological one. He’s always been my favorite because I’m a sucker for the “father” figures in heavy books like this, and he plays the spot perfectly.

In the same breath that people abhor those who break the law, they also love vigilantes with an appealing cause.

As with the first two books, trigger warnings are heavy-handed for this story: sexual assault, physical abuse, emotional abuse, child neglect, child abuse, child death, the list goes on. It’s a tough one to read at times, but the exchanges in between with the agents leaning on one another for support are enough to keep it from feeling overwhelming most of the time. The action never stops, and as someone who is finicky about my thrillers and typically doesn’t like crime thrillers at all, I don’t say this lightly: Dot Hutchison weaves the perfect balance of action, suspense, mystery, and character development to always keep my interest. At this point, I’d read anything she releases, and I cannot recommend this series highly enough!

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Thomas & Mercer for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for Kylie D.
464 reviews509 followers
May 27, 2019
Another very good book from Dot Hutchison. It sees FBI Agent Mercedes Ramirez coming home to find a bloody child on her front porch, the victim of child abuse. Over the coming weeks more and more children turn up on the porch, while their parents end up dead. But who is the vigilante? It dregs up all sorts of memories for Mercedes, ones that she would have rather forgotten, and she finds her self questioning her motivations. I didn't find this book quite as powerful as the first two books in the series, but still a very satisfying end to the Collector trilogy.
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,055 reviews364 followers
June 1, 2018
The Summer Children is the third in The Collector’s Series by Hutchison, the most popular, of course, being the first one: The Butterfly Garden. This is one of those rare books for me that crossed genres of horror, thriller, police procedural and simply great fiction primarily due to the incredible writing skills of Hutchison. Admittedly, I have not read either of the two other books in the series so I have nothing against which to compare this book as others have done and are doing. This book, alone, is stellar – excellent mystery, fabulous character development and unspeakable scenes of horror as each poor child is brought to agent Mercedes Ramirez’ porch.
Having not read the previous books in the series let me add that if you have read the other books, this is a must read. It continues the saga of the garden girls as well as the agents involved in their rescue. The ending of this book had me in tears and, as I’ve said, I don’t know the butterfly girls’ story. However, the ending is perfection. If you haven’t read the first two books, have no worries, there is enough detail within that you never once will feel lost or confused. There were details that made me want to read more but never did I feel that I needed to know more in order to understand the context of the story.
There are few writers that can pull off a well written, intense thriller and it is very obvious that Hutchison is one of those writers. I cannot begin to recommend this book highly enough to you.
Thank you #Netgalley, Dot Hutchison and Thomas Mercer Publishing for allowing me to read this copy for free.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,968 reviews2,037 followers
June 12, 2018
EXCERPT: Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was scared of the dark.

Which was silly, even she knew that. There was nothing in the dark to hurt you that wasn't also in the light. You just couldn't see it coming.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: This FBI agent has come to expect almost anything—just not this…

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning. He tells her a chilling tale: an angel killed his parents and then brought him here so Mercedes could keep him safe.

His parents weren’t just murdered. It was a slaughter—a rage kill like no one on the Crimes Against Children team had seen before. But they’re going to see it again. An avenging angel is meting out savage justice, and she’s far from through.

One by one, more children arrive at Mercedes’s door with the same horror story. Each one a traumatized survivor of an abusive home. Each one chafing at Mercedes’s own scars from the past. And each one taking its toll on her life and career.

Now, as the investigation draws her deeper into the dark, Mercedes is beginning to fear that if this case doesn’t destroy her, her memories might.

MY THOUGHTS: I have never been scared of the dark, have never believed in monsters, but then, unlike the children in The Summer Children by Dot Hutchinson, I never had reason to.

Although this, the third book in Hutchison's Collector series - The Summer Children, lacks the gut-wrenching emotional punch of The Butterfly Garden (that is a book that I will never forget), it remains an excellent read. My next comment is probably going to sound very strange given that we are dealing with horrific stories of child abuse, but this is somewhat gentler in nature, in the way that it is written. Without going into graphic descriptions of the abuse, Hutchison still manages to portray the horror of what these children have endured at the hands of the very people who are meant to love and protect them.

FBI agents Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian, and Mercedes Ramirez are the linking thread in this series of books, which I recommend are read in order. It is interesting to see the relationship development through the series, not only with one another, but with the victims they have rescued. They love and support one another, protect one another, even put their lives on the line for one another.

Hutchison gives us her all in her portrayal of the good and the bad, and the good gone bad. Because what starts out as one person's crusade to rescue children from their abusive lives, inadvertently takes a wrong turn and, in doing so, endangers the lives of more children, their innocent parents and, ultimately, members of the FBI team.

This writer knows her subject. Her characters have great depth, her writing is emotionally charged but beautifully balanced, her plotting faultless. I am glad to learn that this series, originally intended to be a trilogy, is to continue with a fourth book, The Vanishing Season, due for publication in 2019. My name will be at the top of the reserve list.

Thank you to Thomas and Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Summer Children by Dot Hutchinson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the 'about' page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.wordpress.com https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Jane.
385 reviews606 followers
November 15, 2018
Well now, The Summer Children was a really happy surprise for me! I'm one of those huge fans of The Butterfly Garden who felt a bit let down by Roses of May, so I went into this book hoping for the best but with tempered expectations. I don't know if that tempering helped me have the right perspective for this one or not, but the end result is that I really enjoyed this book!

To be clear, if you're hoping for more of the creepiness that was The Butterfly Garden, you're not going to find it here and this is probably not the right book for you. What you will find is a fantastic police procedural and what I hope is the true starting point of Dot Hutchison's series -- I like this group of agents and I really want to read more about them! I was halfway through this book when I saw the announcement that this is no longer a trilogy, it's now a series, and I sure hope that the next book sticks closely to the formula used here, because it works really well.

Instead of trying to use alternating perspectives as she did in the first two books, in this book Hutchinson tells the story strictly from Agent Ramirez's POV and that was a great decision. I felt like I was reading the first book in a detective series and I'll definitely sign up right now to read book 2.

I did have a few minor quibbles with this story that knock it down a star:

**Our core group of detectives is just a tiny bit too perfect -- I hope to see a few more flaws in the next outing.

**The inclusion of Priya and the Butterflies was a bit contrived and really unnecessary - it's been several years since those cases finished, so I'd be ok if those characters just had a simple casual mention (or nothing at all). I hope in the next book these characters don't play as big of a role unless one of them is actually involved in some pertinent way with an investigation.

**Dios mío las interjecciones españolas!

Overall, though, this was a great story and I'm really glad I read it.

Badass Female Character score: 5/5 - the women in this book were all pretty awesome and ran around kicking lots of ass!

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer, and the author for providing me with a DRC of this book.
November 11, 2018
3.5 hard to read stars

Can there be a harder job than having to be and FBI agent whose unit is in charge of crimes against children, especially involving sexual crimes? This must be an absolutely heart breaking task and I am pretty sure the burn out rate must be high. We wonder how anyone can possibly hurt children and it is even more gruesome when the pervert is a parent or a relative.

In this third outing we meet with Mercedes Ramiriez, an agent, who herself has come from a troubled past. She understands quite well the heartbreaking issues that children have to deal with as victims of sexual trauma.

When a child is placed on Mercedes' porch, covered in blood but saved by and angel, the unit she works with goes into action. For you see, there is a killer, an angel, out there who even though they are saving children, they are savagely murdering the ones the "angel" sees as responsible for the child's abuse. The angel seems to know Mercedes and trusts her to take care of the children, but as the murders continue and more children wind up with Mercedes, can this supposed angel be stopped?

Unfortunately, agents never know really where these children go after they are rescued. In some cases they are placed into environments that rival what they supposedly have escaped from. So, many times the people working to save and provide a safe arena for these children really never know if indeed they do. The author clearly wants her readers to understand this. We can try to "fix" things never knowing if we do really accomplish that.

This was the first book in this series that I have read and at times, the telling and the characters seemed to be murky. However, that could be because I missed the first two books. However, there was a story to tell and the fact that we have children being abused in families is both awful and horrific.

Thank you to Dot Hutchson, the publisher, and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.
Profile Image for Jess☺️.
469 reviews83 followers
November 11, 2018
The summer children by Dot Hutchison is the third in the collector series and it is for me probably the best one with the butterfly garden coming second the rose of may last.
It's kind of haunting and harrowing all at the same time when you read the tiny snippets of the childrens life history of physical abuse which is enough to make you brain work over time and your anger start to fizz.
I like the quirky little family the detective's have made with each other and with a few of the girls from the last two books it seems to even out the dark side of the story.
We also get to see why agent Mercedes Ramirez joined the FBI and about her childhood which is just heart breaking.
If your looking for a thriller with a bit of something else then I highly recommend this book (I also think it should be read as a series)and I hope that this series continues because there are a few questions I would like answered still about some members of the team.
Profile Image for Dennis.
774 reviews1,472 followers
May 24, 2018
The Summer Children is the final arc of Dot Hutchison's The Collector Trilogy, tying up odds and ends for police team Ramirez and Eddison (I love calling police officers by their last name, sorry Law and Order: SVU has forever changed me). The Summer Children dives more into the life of Agent Mercedes Ramirez, especially when children begin to show up at her doorstep, confiding in her chilling details about this Angel who has single-handedly murdered their parents. To make matters worse, this Angel forces the children to watch their parents's murder, to show that they are now freed from their treacherous past. Each child has a story of their own as well—all have been brutal victims to heinous crimes and neglect by their parents. The Angel is providing vigilante work and becoming a self-righteous anti-hero in her own rite, and Ramirez and Eddison must find out who she is before more children are subjected to her murderous rage.

If you enjoyed my mini synopsis review and want to read The Summer Children , please do not finish the rest of my review. :) Thanks!

Here we go... phew:
I really don't enjoy critiquing a book that is not necessarily bad, because it isn't; it just needed a lot more work to wrap up the series. The Butterfly Garden, aka Book 1, the immensely popularly, beautifully tragic story of the Butterfly victims and the evil Gardener was extraordinarily painted (minus the hokey ending that almost ruined it for me), while The Roses of May flopped as a predecessor of the story; however both books had something there that The Summer Children fails to deliver. There's not one moment in the story where the novel focuses on the point-of-view of the victim/s. One thing that made Books 1-2 a better read for me was that we felt the pain and heartache of the victims, learning how their treatment further changed them in the process. In The Summer Children , we are only reflecting upon Mercedes Ramirez's point-of-view, which isn't something to praise about. Books 1-2 did not really showcase too much of the police force's personalities or lives in any capacity that would allure the reader to actually give a damn about them. They were always secondary to a stronger and more flawed protagonist. There were nuances with both Ramirez and Eddison that I also found to be frustrating in The Summer Children . For example, in this story, we all of a sudden find out that Mercedes speaks Spanglish (randomly interjecting in Spanish and quickly reverting back to English) and has a girlfriend—that has never happened or been told to the reader before (hi, it's Book 3!). We may not have ever gone deep enough into her persona to know this, but I actually believe this was a calculated effort to diversify the story. This effort falls flat on me because Ramirez and Eddison already come out looking like unflawed, unrelatable, and non-emotional characters so by all of a sudden adding random personified traits that were never mentioned before makes it feel cheap—like why waste time reading Books 1 and 2 when their personalities will all of a sudden change out of nowhere in The Summer Children anyway?

The Summer Children starts off fast-paced and exciting, leaving you ready for more; but as quickly as the story starts burning, it fizzles out. I was completely bored by the halfway mark and ready for this book to end. This book had a lot to live up to after Roses of May was decimated by readers, and it missed the mark. You can definitely read this book as a standalone because the characters from Book 1 and Book 2 are not heavily featured and their backstory is revealed in a way that quickly catches you up to speed, although I do recommend reading them if you want to see how your favorite characters from the first two novels wrap up their story.

Dot Hutchison is an excellent writer, and I'd be curious to see what's next up her sleeve—I'm just glad it's not another book in The Collector Series.
Profile Image for Dennis.
659 reviews269 followers
November 7, 2021
Dot Hutchison’s The Collector series, which is really a series of standalone novels with recurrent characters that doesn’t have anything to do with the titular Collector at this point, has moved on to a more traditional police procedural now. She has established her team of FBI agents and we are following them working on cases that in this instance are about crimes against children. I suppose this is what we are going to get from now on.

Contrary to the previous books, which were told from multiple perspectives, this one focuses on a first-person narration from FBI agent Mercedes Ramirez' point of view. There are children showing up on her doorstep (initially) whose parents had been killed by what they describe as an angel. Basically a vigilante dressed as an angel who’s trying to save children from their abusing parents, by killing said parents and dropping off the children at Mercedes’ place where he or she deems them to be safe. Where’s the connection?

We follow Mercedes while she’s orbiting the investigation in which she can’t be officially involved, while we also see her dealing with some personal stuff, namely the deteriorating relationship with her girlfriend and some quite serious family issues. All the while the relationships between the several members of the FBI team are explored more thoroughly.

This last point was a bit of an issue for me. While the first book in this series was a dark and pretty sick thriller about a serial rapist and killer who held several young women captive in his “garden” and the second one was an equally intimate but less creepy story that focused on a (different) serial killer and on the way several people/victims deal with their traumata, this one here I believed was about child abuse and yet another serial killer and therefore I expected it to be super dark again, a bit like the first one. But in reality, it is mainly utilizing the found family trope. Look, I like those agents too. But at the same time, they really annoy me, because they are just too perfect. They always do and say the right thing, are always super supportive of each other. They are constantly hugging and having cuddly sleepovers for Christ’s sake. It just feels a bit off, you know?! Or, like my friend Paul said (yes, I’m quoting you again), “it felt like a teenager's idea of what it was like to be a grown-up, based only on t.v. and movies.” Exactly!

The actual case was interesting and kept me guessing (unsuccessfully) at who the killer was, so that was nice. But the characters' relationships made this a book that felt almost too light (Cheerful, perhaps? Still searching for the right word here.) considering the subject matter. And in the end, with Hutchison seemingly fully aware of her book’s main focus, the case almost felt like an afterthought, because the killer’s identity is revealed and the showdown done and dusted with quite some time before the actual story ends.

The thing is, I enjoyed this book quite a bit while I was reading it. But thinking about it afterwards, there are a couple of things that are just not quite right with it. Ultimately, I think this is the weakest of the bunch. But I will read the next one, as it seems to focus on agents Sterling and Eddison. And Eddison is my favorite, because at least he is somewhat grumpy.

This has been a buddy read with Alla. And we (which basically means she, as I was just my slow-reading self) timed it in such a way that we find out about the killer’s identity on the same evening. But Whatsapp going offline and my inability to remember that SMS also still exists torpedoed that carefully laid out plan.
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,220 reviews224 followers
August 15, 2020
Updated from re-read, prior to reading review copy of number 4. I love this series, it's genuinely close to my heart. But as much as I love books one and two, this was the book that made me feel like this could really be a long term series, that the magic wasn't going to wear off, and that it wasn't just the agents who had managed to find a home and a family that they could finally rely on.
Yep, this is the book where it crossed the border into "worryingly emotional attachment" and I am just fine with that.

This series remains one of my favourites, but The Summer Children now holds the title as my favourite entry.

As before, we're following our team of agents - now including Sterling from Roses of May, yay! - and this time the focus is on Mercedes. Unlike the last books, we don't spend this one looking through the view of the subject of a case, but directly from Mercedes herself.

There's something about the way that Dot Hutchison writes such horrific things that allows me to read without being overwhelmed. None of these books deal with run of the mill badness, but this one in particular deals with the true evil that visits all too many children. She never downplays or shies away from it, but somehow she manages to write hope between even the bleakest lines; some people don't make it through awful things, but even then there's the reminder that others will. It's a delicate balance and a testament to her ability as a writer that these books deal with the worst in people without being about it - instead they're about all the people who face that darkness as victims or hunters and the good that they find in each other.

As always, the extended family of this unit includes Priya, Inara and Bliss, and I love that they seem to be on track for being a permanent fixture in the series.

This was a phenomenal book in an amazing series. I was provided with a free copy for review by Netgalley and the publisher but my opinions are my own. As with the others I'll be buying both the digital and the physical copy anyway!
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews874 followers
May 21, 2018
Well. All I have to say about Dot Hutchison's Collector series is: nothing gold can stay.

Dark, twisted, and gripping, I thought The Butterfly Garden was altogether pretty brilliant. But Hutchison's followup novel, Roses of May, provided a starling (and in my opinion, utterly grating) tonal shift, abandoning a lot of the creepiness of the first novel and coming across as ultimately rather juvenile. I was hoping The Summer Children might bounce back and show a hint of The Butterfly Garden's greatness, but I'm afraid this had nothing to offer but more of that obnoxious fan-servicing cutesy humor that plagued Roses of May. I mean, in theory, The Summer Children should be dark. It follows FBI agent Mercedes Ramirez as she investigates a series of murders by someone who's attempting to 'rescue' children from abusive households by killing their parents. The last thing I should be thinking is 'why does this have to be so goddamn twee,' but here we are.

This kind of goes hand in hand with my criticism of the book's tone, but what's so insufferable about Roses of May and The Summer Children is how obsessed Hutchison is with her own protagonists. Sure, they're all flawed (in super palatable ways), but they're also the most competent and considerate people in the universe, and we need to be reminded of it again. and. again. There are entire scenes that serve no narrative purpose but to self-congratulate. Is it not bad enough that we have to revisit Mercedes's proclivity toward being honest with the children she works with on about twenty separate occasions, do we really have to laud it each time?

Maybe it's just me, but I like stories that dig into human imperfections - characters who say the wrong thing and can't take it back, characters who react inappropriately in dire situations, characters hurt the people they love by mistake. There is none of that here. Mercedes and her team can do no wrong, and we need to pat them on the backs every time they know exactly what someone needs at exactly the right time. And that's another thing - the found family trope is usually one of my favorites, but the way Hutchison writes it is so heavy-handed I spent most of this book cringing with secondhand embarrassment.

Speaking of cringing - this is a passage I highlighted not only because of the corny writing, but because it was probably the fourteenth or fifteenth time the word 'scar' had jumped out at me in this book. "Scars mean we survived something, even when the wounds still hurt." Anyway, so I did a search on my Kindle, and do you know how many times the word 'scar' is used? Twenty-seven. Talk about being bashed over the head.

Bottom line is that I was not the target audience here, and I ordinarily don't hold this kind of thing against the book as much as I am doing right now, but I can't help but to find it irritating that all the maturity of the first book sort of evaporated in the second two. I guess this can't technically be classified as YA as the protagonist is in her thirties, but trust me, if you do not enjoy YA, read The Butterfly Garden as a standalone and move on.

Thank you to Netgalley, Thomas & Mercer, and Dot Hutchison for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kristie.
844 reviews365 followers
June 6, 2018
This story once again returns us to Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian, and Mercedes Ramirez. We also hear from our butterflies, Inara and Bliss. Priya Sravasti is still in contact and our favorite agent from Priya's case, Eliza Sterling, has moved over to Virginia to join our team too. We also get to meet a few new agents, including a friend of Mercedes that she was in training with and I'm hoping to see more of her in future books. As you can see, there are a lot of strong women included in the book, which is fabulous.

In this book, we are again faced with another serial killer. However, this particular killer is attempting to "save" children. As we move through the story, we find out why this person chose Mercedes to leave the children with and we also get to hear Mercedes backstory, why she joined the force to begin with.

I will state that some parts of this story can be difficult to read. This is a somewhat dark series in general and if you have issues with any type of child abuse or rape this is definitely not the book or series for you. Be warned, this series is about a team of FBI agents who work cases dealing with violence against children. It's not easy.

I love that the author added real life issues, such as eating, sleeping, makeup removal, breakups, sobering up after a night out, and who's going to drive my car? The characters are all flawed, which makes them more realistic. They have their own insecurities and tics. They pace and tap pens. They give each other crap, but they are there to support each other always. I think that those relationships are one of the best parts of the story.

However... the author has decided to add a romantic interest and I'm really hoping she doesn't mess up the whole mojo of the books moving forward. This could be good, I suppose, but it could also be really, really bad. Please, please don't mess it up. I was loving the way things were heading.

If you enjoy mystery / thrillers with a police (FBI) procedural aspect and enjoy the relationship banter of a team, I would definitely give this series a try.

If you read the first book in the series, The Butterfly Garden, just know that the second and third book in the series are different. They are not told interview style from the perspective of the victim. They are told more traditionally. In the second, you got to know the agents more, as well as the intended victim. The story was told from the perspectives of the agents, the intended victim, and the killer. This time around, you get to know the agents more and the victims less.


Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for BAM the enigma.
1,849 reviews360 followers
September 20, 2018
Netgalley #62

Many thanks go to Dot Hutchinson, Thomas and Mercer, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Each Collecter Series book has a different POV. The Summer Children is expressed from Detective Mercedes Ramirez's eyes. Children are being left on her front porch-bloody and with teddy bears. Their parents are being killed in front of them. Who's doing the killing but sparing the children and why?
I've enjoyed every book in this series. Hutchinson is original and her stories are fast-paced. I read them in one night. Her cast is diversified also so her books speak to today's audience. It's easy to get lost in her pages.
Profile Image for mina.
685 reviews243 followers
May 17, 2019

Summer Children is a combination of her previous two books, The butterfly garden (where we follow a difficult story) and Roses of May (where the story is more revolving around the characters). There’s not a long list of things I don’t feel comfortable reading, but in this book there are two present and those are child molestation and incest. If its done right I can stomach it however here it didn’t feel like that, it took me a few days to finish the book because I felt highly uncomfortable while reading it… on the other hand I think that’s the only way you should feel while reading something with this topic.

I loved the dynamic of the team and Sterling was a great addition to the group (can’t wait to read the fourth book that’s told from her perspective), I also liked the appearance of characters from the previous books. The characters were amazing, well, minus one person – Siobhan, she made me so mad! The way she acted when kids were left on Mercedes’ porch was terrible for lack of a better word, Mercedes doesn’t have a nice job but it’s very important and Siobhan not wanting to know or do anything with it was horrible especially since they’ve been in a relationship for three years.

This book is considered a mystery/thriller but I can’t accept it like that. Yes, there was the mystery who is the angel but it didn’t focus much on the investigation, it focused more on characters which I did like, however I like my mysteries/thrillers to be more investigative.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
315 reviews34 followers
June 13, 2018
4 - 4.5 stars

Dot Hutchinson has fully redeemed herself in the final book of the Collector Series, The Summer Children. I was fully captivated by The Butterfly Garden (review can be here: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1650757015) and I couldn’t get enough. So when Roses of May came out, I was beyond excited. While RoM was enjoyable, it just didn’t have the same “grip” factor. Review here: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1981148514

With all of that being said, The Summer Children had me hook, line and sinker. I was addicted. One of the most notable differences between this book and the other two is that it is being told in the POV of Mercedes and not the victim. This book was all police procedural, told from the side of CAC. Not that that is a bad thing, it is just different from the other books and weird to me to stray from the formula of the other books in the trilogy.

However, this book is engaging and past paced and I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s not dark and creepy like Butterfly Garden, but it is a well told story and I was very into it. I highly recommend reading this entire series, although you could read any of the books as a stand alone.

Thank you to Thomas & Mercer for my copy of this book via NetGalley
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
812 reviews154 followers
January 9, 2019
#1 : The Butterfly Garden (The Collector #1) : 3 stars
#2 : Roses of May (The Collector, #2) : 4 stars

This book is so good that I’m now more in love with the first and second book and able to appreciate them more than I did in the past just because this book made me realize something deeper and more genuine about this series and opened my eyes on the incredible talent that is Dot Hutchison.

Scars mean we survived something, even when the wounds still hurt

If you’re someone who’s familiar with the trilogy then you know it’s about a team of FBI agents, Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian, and Mercedes Ramirez and in each book, there’s a mystery that will tie with one of those agents one way or another. The first book, The Butterfly Garden was Victor’s book. The second book, Roses of May was Edisson’s book and this one focuses more on the female agent of the team, Mercededs. Also, in this book, the team has a new addition, Agent Sterling who we first meet in the second book where she pays a minimal yet impressive role in the story.

The book starts with a bang; driving home with her girlfriend, Agent Ramirez finds a shocked and bloody child on her footsteps who informs on the sinister events that happened in his house that evening; an angel murdered his parents, made him watch and then drove him to Mercedes’ house telling him that he will be safe with the FBI agent. And that was only the beginning, more children starts appearing and they’re all telling similar stories.
And now Agent Mercedes needs to take a deep look on her past for it is the only way to unveil the mask of the killer and to stop him or her forever.

I just got Goosebumps writing that summary. The story is phenomenal and the mystery is fascinating. An avenging angel who’s killing abusive parents and saving children from a life full of pain in the most unsettling and disturbing ways is a story that I didn’t see before in any of the thrillers that I read.

It isn't impossible to heal from that, but it leaves scars. It changes the way you look at people, how far you can trust or let people in. It changes your habits, even your desires and dreams. It changes who you are, and no matter how much you struggle back toward that place, that person you started as, you never actually get there. Some change is irreversible

I’m always hesitant to read thrillers that tackle the topic of child abuse because most of the cases, it is used for the shock factor or as a plot twist and that’s something I can never stand for but it was never the case in this one. The subject was approached with delicate care and sensitivity and the way the author explored the different ways children deal with abuse was done in an effective, gut-wrenching and eye-opening manner. We see children who are traumatized deeply they’ll need a massive amount of time and help to get past all of it, we see other kids who feel shame for what happened to them, we see others who think that they deserve it because that’s what they were taught since they were babies and we see different cases and with every case, I feel myself crack open more and more, I wanted to reach inside and protect them forever.

In this book, I learned more about Mercedes and I came to love the women she is behind the Agent facade, complicated, caring, loving and strong despite the damage she endured in her childhood, she is one of the best female characters I’ve read this year.

She hated seeing herself in pictures because her eyes always yelled the things she wasn’t allowed to say, and still no one listened

I already knew that the characters were complex and they were written in a genius way but in this book, I just fell in love with all of them completely. The bond they share is absolutely heartwarming and they way they understand each other, they way they lean on each other and how they are ready to sacrifice for one another is something I’ve never witnessed before in a series about agents or detective.

The way the mystery unraveled and the final message of the book felt sad, painful to admit but absolutely real. These agents try every day to save people from tragic circumstances but not everyone will be saved in the end, you just do the best you can in a society that won’t let you sometimes and then hope that it won’t be for nothing.

Kids who face monsters can grow up to become monsters, I know that, and some grow up to chase monsters.

I really can’t recommend this book enough, I know that it’s not the most popular mystery series in the world but it’s ridiculous how underrated these books are. They are great mystery with a beating hearts and characters that makes you care, love and weep. Please, read it.

Profile Image for Rohit Enghakat.
232 reviews62 followers
July 26, 2018
The book cover was beautiful. I picked it up the book from Net Galley when I found the average rating which was well above 4. I had huge expectations from the book but somewhere I could not connect with the characters.

This is about FBI agent Mercedes Ramirez working in the Crimes Against Children Dept who finds herself investigating murders when children are dropped at her home after being rescued from their abusive homes. She is aided by her colleagues Eddison, Vic and Sterling who, I guess, made an appearance in one of the previous book in the series. The agent herself has a dark history and mysteriously the killer trusts her to safeguard these children.

The book starts with a promise but it loses its pace with myriad characters flitting in and out of the plot. The narrative is dark and horrific. The crux of the plot is superb and the subject is quite macabre. However, I did not find it thrilling enough to keep me hooked. Maybe the earlier books in the series were far better. Also the characters from the Butterfly Garden (Priya, Inara and Victoria-Bliss) make an appearance without adding any value to the plot. However at some places it becomes quite emotional and disturbing to read about the sexual abuse faced by the children.

I thank Net Galley for a free copy of the book.
Profile Image for Colleen.
666 reviews114 followers
January 5, 2019
5 Stars

**My #4 best read of 2018**

ARC provided by Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dot Hutchison has done it again! I was enthralled from the first page of The Summer Childrenand could not put this book down! I read it in a day. The characters are vivid and compelling. The plot kept me guessing, kept me turning the pages long into the night. The writing is beautiful, haunting, and heartbreaking.

The story is set three years after the events of The Roses of May and focuses on a new serial killer case. This time, Agent Mercedes Ramirez is the narrator and the main focus of the story. Mercedes is tough, independent, and butt-kicking. She also has a haunting past. But there are little things that show her softer side like her teddy bear collection and her Hufflepuff phone case. She was an engaging narrator. The only tiny critique I have is that sometimes the intermittent Spanish dialogue didn’t feel as organic.

Her FBI team has such a strong bond. I just wanted to hug them all. After three books and following these characters through such brutal circumstances, these characters mean so much to me.

I won’t give away anything about the plot. But it certain things in common with its predecessors while also being markedly different.

As a shift from the first two books, most of the story is told in first person, present tense from Mercedes’ viewpoint. There are intermittent scenes in third person, but I cannot explain them without giving anything away. Like the other books, I quickly forgot all about tense and perspective because I was so sucked into the story. Proving once again that it is most writers’ inability to properly handle first person and/or present tense that bothers me not those things in and of themselves.

Sadly, this series is exactly why I find most of the popular Thrillers to be frustrating and boring. It shows that a Thriller can still have character development. It shows that characters should not horrible jerks for no reason. It shows that you can have beautiful, atmospheric writing without killing the pacing of the plot. Hutchison’s writing is so evocative and moving. I don’t understand how she is such an underappreciated author while some truly mediocre writers lounge atop the best sellers list with ease.

I mentioned this in my previous reviews for this series, and it hold true for The Summer Children as well: one of the things I love about this series is that the author explores topics and emotions surrounding these crimes not just the crimes themselves. These stories have extra depth because they delve into the raw emotions around how people react differently to trauma, survivors’ guilt, grief, and the fact that no matter how hard you try, you can’t save them all. The theme of how people survive and how they heal is woven throughout the whole series. And it keeps the stories from being too bleak.

This book does concern some distressing topics though, so I’ll include a trigger warning for physical and sexual abuse, incest, child neglect, rape, and murder. In some ways, it was more emotional to read because it deals with the abuse of children. But I’m not one to get upset just because of the fact that it involved children. No, this book literally brought me to tears because of how Hutchison brought those children and their situation to life. And because I know that those are not far-flung ideas (which some people accused The Butterfly Garden of). No, tragically, these are situations that occur every day. I know this is not a series for everyone because it does concern disturbing events, but it is so wonderfully written. You should definitely read them in order though.

This was one of the top books of 2018 that was looking forward to reading. I am so glad that it lived up to my expectations! While The Butterfly Garden is still my favorite of the series, The Summer Children definitely lived up to my expectations. I laughed. I cried. I got goosebumps. And now I have a massive book hangover, because I know whatever I read next won’t be as evocative as this book.

Ease of Reading: 5 Stars
Writing Style: 5 Stars
Characters and Character Development: 5 Stars
Plot Structure and Development: 5 Stars
Level of Captivation: 5 Stars
Originality: 5 Stars
Profile Image for Paul.
2,307 reviews20 followers
September 24, 2021
Twenty Five 'Reviews' In One Day: Book 12!

The third book in the Collector series (which become increasingly badly named with each volume, as the titular Collector doesn't appear in the second and third book at all) is another new case for the FBI Crimes Against Children team.

A vigilante killer is bumping off the parents of children who are being abused and dumping the kids on the doorstep of Mercedes (one of our FBI protagonists). The team must find out how this vigilante is getting their information and track them down before they can strike again.

This is a tense story with some nice twists and turns. It even managed to fool me as to the identity of the killer, which doesn't happen often. My only grumble is the touchy-feely, huggy-huggy nature of the team of FBI agents. I've been working with government agencies for a long time now and I have to say I have never seen this kind of behaviour in any of team I've worked in or with. I know the author is trying to get across that the team is a 'family' but it just doesn't ring true to me.

My next book: Mr. Nonsense
Profile Image for alittlelifeofmel.
884 reviews343 followers
August 6, 2018
Dot Hutchison is an absolute auto buy auto read author for me. Her writing is addicting. It flows so well. It’s like candy, you just keep going and going until there’s nothing left to consume. I read all of this in the span of 5 hours and I haven’t done that in ages.

Here’s the thing, her mysteries are predictable. Both novels I’ve guessed the killer the moment we met them because there’s just no one else it could be. It’s too simple. But like I also don’t care. I LOVE the actual crimes and how messed up and twisted and unique they are. All 3 serial killers so far have been fascinating. But I’m here for the characters. I’m so attached and I love them all. I want to read more and more about them and never stop. It’s just that good.

Highly highly recommend these.
Profile Image for Ariannha .
1,015 reviews
January 27, 2021

“Los que recurren a la violencia no suelen tener soluciones que ofrecer.”

Tercer libro de la Serie El Coleccionista de la autora. Aunque cada libro ha sido un caso diferente, con un equipo de investigación común, hay personajes que se repiten en cada uno de ellos, por tanto es preferible leerlos en orden.

“Los niños del verano” nos trae a un ángel vengador que imparte justicia con los padres que de alguna manera han maltratado a sus hijos, dejando a éstos al amparo de Mercedes Ramírez, agente del FBI de la Unidad de Delitos contra Menores.
En la investigación y el seguimiento del caso, la agente se enfrentará con su propio dolor y cada crimen abrirá las heridas que por años ha tratado de cicatrizar.
Me gustó la presencia de Maya y Priya (personajes importantes del primer y segundo libro), tienen pocas líneas, pero hacen un importante quiebre en nuestra protagonista.

La autora, mantiene su estilo característico, nos presenta un thriller cargado de sensaciones, intensidad y emocionalidad.
También nos plantea una crítica a los Servicios Sociales, donde su gestión por razón o sin ella, no siempre es la más efectiva para los niños implicados.

El ritmo de este libro es bastante pausado, tiene intriga pero no grandes giros. Pero como en los libros anteriores, nos plantea una temática sumamente cruda, porque en tu mente es imposible entender que un padre pueda maltratar / abusar de estas formas a sus hijos.

Mi favorito de la serie sigue siendo El jardín de las mariposas, el cual pronto tendrá una adaptación cinematográfica.

En definitiva, en un thriller crudo y desgarrador por la realidad plasmada, que sigue la estela de sus predecesores; pero el menos sorpresivo en su desenlace.

“Cuando la honestidad y la lealtad se enfrentan, ¿cuál gana?”
Profile Image for Monnie.
1,400 reviews764 followers
May 26, 2018
So much did I love the first two books in this series The Butterfly Garden and The Roses of May that I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one. And I thoroughly enjoyed it as well, although for a somewhat different reason. It doesn't have the emotionally charged, edge-of-your-seat thrills like the others, but the writing is superb and I loved the character development and their interactions with one another.

And to that end, I'll offer a word of advice: Read the series from the beginning. The books can stand alone, yes, but the full understanding and impact from each, IMHO, will only come to those who've read them all in order.

This one begins as Mercedes Ramirez, an agent with the Crimes Against Children unit and survivor of horrific abuse as a child, comes home after a romantic evening with her lover, Siobhan, to find a bloodied child in her porch swing. An "angel," the youngster haltingly explains, forced him to watch while she murdered his parents. Then, she gave him a white teddy bear and dropped him off at Mercedes' house, telling him Mercedes would make sure he's taken care of.

I shall digress for a moment to say it's refreshing to see an openly gay woman (Mercedes) portrayed with such, well, normalcy. She's a competent agent who is both admired and totally accepted by her co-workers for who she is (that she gets hugs from her straight female team members unaccompanied by an "OMG, if I touch her it's gonna rub off on me" attitude is truly amazing considering the way gay females all too often are portrayed).

The killer may be reprehensible, but she's right; Mercedes is the perfect person to make sure the young boy gets the right kind of attention and care. Immediately, she gets down to the business of identifying the killer, with help from her partner Brandon Eddison and boss, Victor Hanoverian - the two who, years ago, rescued Mercedes from her hellish life and are the reason she's making a career out of protecting abused children.

The trail leads nowhere, and then three more blood-covered kids show up on Mercedes' porch telling the same story. And then come even more, prompting Mercedes to wonder why she's been chosen to be the children's savior. Could it be because of something, or someone, from her storied past? Whatever the reason, it's clear that the murders aren't going to stop anytime soon; if anything, they're escalating. In the end, it's a race to save lives - and the killer from herself.

Honestly, I'm a bit confused as to whether this is the last in the series - some places I've read that it is while others call it the third of four books. This one wraps things up in fine fettle; but that said, almost any of the characters are strong and intriguing enough to have starring roles in future editions, including Mercedes and her quirky but very capable team. In any event, many thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this one.
Profile Image for Amber J.
895 reviews59 followers
July 23, 2021
This book was just all kinds of sad. Even during some of the more humorous moments. It was still just really really sad. It wasn't a bad book at all. It was interesting but just sad to the very core of it. I went with the audio version of this one as well. The narrator was pretty good. I'll be finishing the series with the next and final book.

How I choose my rating:
1* Didn't like it at all. These are rare as I usually just don't finish any book I dislike this much.
2** Didn't like it. Again usually DNF if I dislike it this much, but occasionally I feel it still has potential and I try to stick with it to the end.
3*** I liked it. It wasn't great but it was enjoyable enough. It is unlikely I'll ever reread it but I might finish the series if it is a part of one.
4**** I really liked this book. Maybe not a work of genius, but highly entertaining. I might reread this at some point, and I will almost always finish the series if part of one.
5***** I loved this book. I found little to no issues with it at all. I will probably reread this and possibly more than once. I will definitely finish the series if it's part of one.
Profile Image for Jean.
408 reviews52 followers
June 27, 2018
The Summer Children is the third installment in The Collector series. You definitely should read the prior 2 books before reading this one.

I loved the storyline in this book. A guardian angel is "saving" children from their abuse at home and dropping them off at FBI agent Mercedes Ramirez's home where they are told they will be safe. The problem with the book was that there was too much personal drama in it. Do co-workers really have that many sleepovers together? And what is with all the spanish? I took spanish in high school but that wasn't enough to translate. It felt like I was out of the loop of an inside joke.

I was really disappointed with the 2nd book but all in all, it was a good ending to the series. It tied in the "Butterflies" and Priya nicely.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for a copy of Dot Hutchison's "The Summer Children" in exchange of an honest review.

Profile Image for Cortney -  The Bookworm Myrtle Beach.
822 reviews108 followers
December 21, 2018
The Summer Children was fantastic... I spent my only day away from the bookstore reading it at home on the couch. Dot Hutchison definitely recaptured the magic of The Butterfly Garden that was missing in The Roses of May.

I loved that this book was centered around Mercedes and we went through her struggles and demons while she was trying to find the "angel". Great book! I am so pumped that there is another coming out in 2019.
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