Friday, 17 June 2016

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit, Crimson Shore & False Lights. (

What we thought: This is one of those gems of a book that you know, instinctively, from the very first page that you are going to be reading it every spare moment you can find – and even making spare moments just to bury your nose back into the story!

It’s a psychological thriller but without any hard edges, written from the perspective of a distraught mother and a missing child. And I think for me it’s the clever, and different, choice of POV that make this book stand out from the crowd. There’s an outpouring of human emotions that feels so tangible at times you could reach out and pull handfuls of it from the page, like candyfloss from a stick. This book touches you in places you don’t often choose to venture.

When Carmel Wakeford vanishes from her mother’s side at a local festival, at first it’s not too serious. She’s ‘that’ type of child, wayward and vague, likes to disappear, has a tendency to be different and a little strange. But when the search reveals no sign of her, and no witnesses come forward, police are called and Beth, Carmel’s single mother, is left to cope in the hands of family liaison officers. In reality, Carmel has been abducted by a man posing as her estranged grandfather, and taken to America where she’s renamed Mercy and becomes involved in his church due to what he sees as her gift.

As days stretch into weeks, weeks into months, months into years … we share the highs and lows of both sides of this story. There’s no violence in this novel, no abuse, no cliches, no dark themes. Yet, still with the lightest of touches, the reader is taken on a journey of fear, deception and horror. We feel Beth’s pain and we understand Carmel’s lonely confusion. And yet … we know, deep down, there’s an inner spark and gutsy gene pool in both of them that will see them saved. But of course, you have to read on just to be sure!I loved this book, and in the style of recent thrillers like The Girl on the Train I can see this debut novel carrying this author to equally dizzying heights … and I’m glad because she so deserves it.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn, Jojo Moyes.

Avoid if you don’t like: Human weakness and human strength in the face of adversity.

Ideal accompaniments: Coca cola and chocolate cake.

Genre: Psychological thriller.

Available on Amazon

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