Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different - sensitive, distracted, with an heartstopping tendency to go missing. Her 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 Carmel for an outing to a local festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears into the crowd. 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. But do the real clues to Carmel's disappearance lie in the otherworldly qualities her mother had only begun to guess at?
In Kate Hamer’s debut novel, The Girl in the Red Coat, we are drawn into a gripping tale as a mother searches desperately for her missing child, and a young girl who has to adapt to her new life and learn to face some very hard truths that will bring her world crashing down. Can she accept what she has been told and move on as her old life begins to become a distant memory? Can she really let go of the past?
When Beth takes her daughter, Carmel to a fair, her life becomes every parent’s worst nightmare. She loses her eight-year-old daughter in the crowd and as everyone begins to disperse and go home, Carmel remains missing and now the police are on the scene. Beth tries to convince herself that Carmel has wandered off of her own accord, as she has done in the past, but deep down she knows that this time something is different.
I found Beth’s character, the mother of the missing child, totally convincing and I thought it was great how Kate managed to tap into her emotions as the search for her daughter continued, with many ups and downs along the way. What surprised me in the novel was Beth’s new found relationship with her ex husband Paul, Carmel’s Dad and his new partner, Lucy. Of course, parents of a missing child will want to come together in the hope that their child may come home, and to bolster the search, but Kate takes their relationship to a whole new level and it seems that they get on better now than they did before Carmel went missing.
Kate manages to suck you into Beth and Carmel’s new world and I raced through the final pages, desperate to get the end and learn Carmel’s fate. There were definitely places, where I didn’t have a clue as to where this story was going to go, and one particular character, Monroe, had me gripping the edge of my seat as I tried to work out what he was planning to do. I won’t reveal anything here as I don’t want to give the story away.
I was a little worried that I was going to be left hanging at the end of the story, like in the first series of The Missing, when there is still that uncertainty if the missing boy was dead or alive, but Kate delivers a very satisfying and neat conclusion and although Carmel and Beth’s story is at its end I would very much like to know what happens next. I’m sure these characters will stay with me for a long while.
The Girl in the Red Coat is a gripping read and one that I highly recommend. I can’t wait for Kate’s next book to see what she does next!