I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of this at the Crime Festival last year. It was attached to a display that included a copy of a newspaper article proclaiming that the Girl in the red coat will be appearing at a church ceremony with her healing powers.
Beth has recently divorced and is trying to rebuild her life with her daughter. Eight year old Carmel is a dreamy child, who even her mother thinks is strange. Beth and Carmel go to a local children’s festival one day. Beth wants to make it a special day for them both, but is still distracted by her recent divorce. It’s from the festival that Carmel goes missing. As her mother frantically searches for her, Carmel is being taken away by a man called Pastor Dennis who believes she is a healer. Pastor Dennis runs the Church of Truth and thinks that Carmel could be the saviour he is looking for.
The Girl in the Red Coat is the debut novel from Kate Hamer and it certainly shows promise. The story is told from the viewpoints of both Beth and the young Carmel which gives the book an unusual perspective. The passages from Beth when she realises Carmel has gone are disturbing and you can feel her terror. Equally I enjoyed the story from the point of view of Carmel and her gradual realisation of the situation she is in. The story spans 5 years as Carmel grows up into a teenager without her mother as she travels round America, and Beth tries to move on whilst never wanting to give up hope that somehow she will find out what happened.
I enjoyed a lot of the descriptions throughout the book and felt that it was an interesting premise. Rather than just following Beth, reading Carmel’s story and knowing that she was still alive meant this book felt quite unique. My only slight criticism, that meant I wasn’t completely bowled over by it, was that personally I did feel that it was a little long. Towards the end it seemed to vear off track slightly and the ending was almost too abrupt with a few too many coincidences for me. However it did mean that all the loose ends were tied up which I like.
The Girl in the Red Coat is most definitely worth a read. I imagine that Kate Hamer will certainly be an author to watch out for in the future, and fingers crossed we see her at a festival soon..