Book Review: The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer’s stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. 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.  (from  

Published February 2015 by Faber (UK)

The Girl In The Red Coat was a ‘Waiting on Wednesday’ pick a few weeks ago. It had grabbed my attention by some pretty positive and excited tweets I’d spotted on twitter. Yet I was still completely unprepared for this utterly compelling book!

The story starts off by introducing us to single mum Beth and her eight year old daughter, Carmel. Carmel is instantly interesting- being a little difficult in an otherworldly,distant way. As a single parent myself, I related with Beth, I think Kate Hamer really captured feelings I’d also experienced perfectly in the early parts of the book, before Carmel’s disappearance. So right away I was invested in these two characters.

I thought I knew how this book was going to go. I was looking forward to some twists and turns, but was pretty confident I knew what the format would be. How wrong was I! Yes, The Girl In The Red Coat is the story of a missing girl, but put any preconceptions aside…this is completely different to anything else I’ve read recently. Spanning several years, we follow both Beth and Carmel’s unexpected journeys. There’s a more subtle, developing terror in this book, rather than one explosive incident and it kept me hooked.

I’ve found this review so difficult to write, and know I haven’t done any justice to the book at all, but I really don’t want to give anything away. The Girl In The Red Coat is written with such emotion at times, especially from Beth, that her grief, panic and desperation was tangible. In Carmel, I found myself rooting for this quietly stubborn and strong child veiled in an air of etherealness. I raced through the book, hours slipping by and unable to put it down. I was so desperate to know how it ended, I even stayed up from a twelve hour night shift to finish the last 50 pages, despite being exhausted. This is a book that will creep under your skin and consume your thoughts, even after the very last page is turned. All I can say is read it…you won’t be disappointed.

My copy was an advance proof courtesy of the publishers and netgalley

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