In the absence of a full TOPCWF this year, I thought I’d have a go at reading the full long list of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year as my challenge. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to complete it ahead of the announcement of the shortlist tomorrow but it’s my challenge and my rules therefore my aim is to read them all before the announcement of the winner later in the year.
The 18 authors listed are:
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Read – see review here)
Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre
Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver (Read)
Cruel Acts by Jane Casey (Read)
Blue Moon by Lee Child
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
Red Snow by Will Dean
Platform Seven by Louise Doughty (Read – it’s set in Peterborough so I had to read a book from my home town)
Ok, well firstly that list confirms that I am very behind with writing reviews. Secondly assuming the winner is announced on the dates that the festival should have been held, voting for the winner will probably close a bit before then. That gives me around 6 weeks to read 9 books. I suppose there are some bonuses about the lock down, with the pubs closed the evenings can be given over to book reading!
I’m sure I’m not the only one who is gutted that we’ll be missing this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (TOPCWF) However if there is any small upside to it, it does mean that I am finally getting the time to catch up on all the books that have been gathering dust on my ‘to read’ pile since last year. One of which was The Nowhere Child by Christian White.
Last year the TOPCWF had a session called Antipodean Noir. This was one session where I didn’t actually have any of the books, although I was keen to purchase the new one by Jane Harper. Whilst stood perusing the session book stall I got chatting to a very nice chap about the authors in the session – long story short I walked away with all 4 books and realised when the session started that I had actually been talking to Craig Sisterson the chair of the panel, he should be a sales person not a journalist. Well I am very glad I was persuaded to buy this, as this was a superb debut novel.
The Nowhere Child tells the story of Kim an Australian photographer. One day a man turns up with a photo of her as a child. He says that Kim is actually called Sammy and that she was abducted from her home town of Kentucky, America twenty years ago. Kim can’t believe that her kind and caring mother who passed away could be an international child abductor, so she heads to America to try and discover the truth.
I found this story absolutely compelling. The story is set between past and present as Kim tries to find out what happened to her, and we also flip back to the lead up to Sammy’s abduction. The flipping between times was done expertly, and it almost felt like two different books (in a positive way) until the worlds finally collided. I especially liked the inclusion of the cult element and the rattle snake wielding preachers that I found fascinating.
Whilst the idea of missing children is one that has been done a lot, this felt like a completely new take on it. Although at its heart this is a family drama, the writing is superb and the element of suspense cuts across every page. I wanted to find out what had happened to Kim when a child, and the twist at the end was a complete surprise.
I would definitely recommend this superb debut novel to all mystery lovers.