The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer
Author: Kate Hamer
Publisher: Bloomsberry House
Copyright Year: 2014
Review By: Suzanne Bozorth-Baines
Carmel has always been different. Carmel’s mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter’s strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children’s festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.
“Since the day she was born, I’ve thought I was going to lose her.” So states Beth, mother of the red-coated girl, and this idea/feeling is repeated throughout this book as Beth comes to terms with the reality of her missing child. A debut novel by documentary television writer, Kate Hamer, this is an unusually cracking yarn about a child who is abducted right from under her mother’s nose—every parent’s nightmare. This isn’t a gory, sexually motivated child abduction, just an abduction (with a purpose in mind). The story relates all the heart breaking moments of parental guilt and constant searching for closure.
The setting spans two continents and many years which seems a big undertaking but works well. It seamlessly switches between narrative of mother and daughter Carmel. The character development is believable and strong. You can’t but help feel for both mother and child and understand their impotence in the face of this disaster. The writing is sometimes beautiful and tender, as both main characters move on with their lives. I thought the abductors might bore me after a while, but their story and reasons for the abduction kept me turning the pages.
Worthy of crime novel status, this book is a great beginning for Hamer and a testimony that doing a creative writing course can be beneficial, even if you’re a seasoned writer.