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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

"The Girl in the Red Coat" by Kate Hamer

Carmel is a precocious eight-year old living with her mum Beth. She tends to wander off. One day she disappears; she has been abducted by a strange man who believes she has a gift for faith healing and takes her to the US.

The narrative alternates between Beth's tale of how she comes to term with the guilt of losing a child and Carmel's strange life on the run with the man who says he is her grandfather.

I was a bit confused. It was a strange book. I had expected an intense, claustrophobic tale of child abduction but the time scale of this book spread the emotion; the main interest went to Carmel's strange itinerant life in the US. At the end I had many questions left unanswered: what happened to Mercy? Is the author telling us that Beth really does have supernatural powers? I read it quickly but much of the time I was skim-reading so I may have missed some details. In the end I wondered whether the abduction and the weird place in Wales was necessary to a tale which seemed to want to be about faith healing. It was as if the author was trying to tell a lot of stories and they weren't fully integrated.

And what was all that Wizard of Oz stuff?

And why does the blurb on the back say that Carmel Wakefield has gone missing when the character's name is Carmel Wakeford?

There were some delightful bits:

  • "Where are fairies and writers now when you need them?" (C 12)
  • "I got the sense of the earth opening up and releasing something that should have stayed compressed: the smell of mud; a deadly mustard gas seeping about the room." (C 16) 
  • "He was angry now, like men are when there's no action to be taken." (C 16)
  • "I'd gone back to tobacco with one swift and easy motion and it had welcomed me, through its smoky lips." (C 17)
  • "Children are like the zombies I once saw in a film at Dad's. We have to do as we're told and obey like our brains have got eaten." (C 25) I'm not convinced that even precocious eight-year olds watch zombie films with their parents.
  • "He looks down at the ground like he wants to kill it." (C 33)

July 2020; 375 pages


  • A more straightforward thriller about the abduction of a child is Found by Erin Kinsley
  • A fascinating tale of the abusive abduction of a child by her father is Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

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