Book review: The Girl in the Red Coat

At some point, I was asked by a relative of P’s if there were any books I might like for Christmas. Thing is, by this point, I knew my family and possibly some friends would have looked at my Amazon wishlist. I had also given off-list suggestions to my family because they were concerned about people getting me multiple copies of the same book. So by this point, I was out of ideas. I picked one of my Amazon recommendations at random.


The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer


It occurs to me that I’m very lucky that so many people give me books. How did I end up with some many brilliant friends? Anyway, P’s relative got me the book, probably knowing exactly as much about it as I did: The title. Incidentally, I think that having now read it, I’ve caught up with books I was given for Christmas. I think the last time this had happened before Summer I was probably about 15. I consider it a bit of the triumph. Now, on with the review.

This is a story about a single mum living with her eight year old girl after a divorce and the girl goes missing. It follows both Beth, the mother searching for her missing daughter and eventually half-heartedly trying to live her life without her, and Carmel, the girl who goes missing, abducted by a strange man who pretended to be her grandfather at a comedy festival.

I’m not sure when I last read this kind of modern crime drama, so it’s hard to compare it to similar work. It would just be a crime thriller too, but or the inclusion of strong religious themes. The man who kidnaps Carmel is a devout Christian, an itinerant preacher who believes in faith healing. That added an interesting element – it’s always enjoyable when books get a bit weird like that – but as far as I’m concerned it didn’t quite come together.

Coming of age is a strong theme, as are fairly tales. There’s an obvious parallel between Carmel and Little Red Riding Hood, even beyond just the coat. I think the religious cult had the potential to make the book really satisfying but in the end I think it was a bit confused. I also found the writing style to be a bit annoying, with character’s conversation especially stilted, although this improved a bit towards the final chapters.

It’s a quick read and an interesting enough diversion and if you like crime thrillers that avoid gratuitous violence then you’ll probably enjoy it. I guess it’s suitable for young adults too. I’m just not convinced it quite deserves the amazing reviews it apparently got but maybe that’s because I don’t read much in this genre.

3 thoughts on “Book review: The Girl in the Red Coat

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