Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Book Review: The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Book: The Girl in the Red Coat

Author: Kate Hamer

Pages: 384

Read on: The Kindle

Read in: 3-4 hours

Plot Summary: Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children's festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift...
While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is - and who she might become.
Things I Liked: Quick list:
1. The premise of the book is interesting- a young child kidnapped (though she doesn't think she is) by an old man claiming to be her estranged maternal grandpa and her mother's journey through the fog of grief, regret, guilt and terror that losing a child brings. So, yeah, that's what drew me to the book and made me pick it up. The book doesn't disappoint as far as delivering on the core premise goes..
2. I liked the chapters that we get to see from Carmel's perspective more than the ones from her mom's perspective. Carmel, who doesn't know she has been kidnapped, is dealing with the bizarre and challenging circumstances that she finds herself in with so much maturity, poise and spirit (at times). It's not that her mum's journey was badly written or boring.. just that it was more predictable and something one has read and seen before. 
3. The reason behind Carmel's kidnapping took me a bit by surprise. I am sure most readers were expecting either pedophilia or an older couple wanting their own child as possible reasons for Carmel's kidnapping, but the real reason is quite bizarre and fairly surprising. 
4. The book is well-paced. There is nothing really superfluous in there and the narrative moves pretty fast. So, that's always a plus for a mystery/ thriller book. 
Things I Didn't Like: Quick list:
1. This book was marketed as a thriller. I read several blurbs on this book, which said it is a thriller. However, the book is not a thriller. Is it a mystery book? Yes. Is it a crime-based book? Yes. However, it is not a thriller. It is a not a book where the police were this close to catching the perps and didn't.. this is not a book where the mother gets breadcrumbs of clues and she goes on this quest of looking for her daughter... What this book is is a story about how a missing child impacts a mother and how a young girl deals with a big change in her life. It is about two independent journeys stemming from one central, traumatic event.. but it ain't no thriller. I just wish this book wasn't marketed as one, because what this book is is good enough. 
2. The narrative is not evenly spaced. We get to see a fairly detailed view of Carmel's life with her kidnappers for the first couple of years and then we are taken to the far end of her captivity. It's like the author rushed to finish the story and couldn't be bothered to fill in the middle bits, especially, once a fairly life-altering event happens to Carmel, which changes her kidnapping experience. 
Rating: 3/5
A good enough book if you'd like to read a well-written story about how a mother and daughter deal with a challenging situation, but remember it is not a thriller or even a major mystery. 

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