Sunday, December 29, 2019

The nowhere child by Christian White

There's nothing special about Kim Leamy, she teaches photography a few nights a week, tries to keep in regular contact with her sister and stepfather, and likes to read.  She doesn't have a husband or partner, but she gets along fine and finds company with her lonely neighbour.  All that changes when she is approached by a man while she's on a break at Northampton Community TAFE - a man who shows her a picture of a missing child and claims that Kim is that child.  As it slowly sinks in that this man, this stranger thinks that she is Sammy Went all grown up, Kim slowly slides into a sense of confusion and betrayal - could the loving mother who raised her really be a kidnapper?  Kim could ask her if she hadn't died of cancer a few years earlier, and her stepfather Dean seems oddly determined for Kim to drop the subject, as does her sister Amy.

When Kim is shown more evidence that she is Sammy Went she makes the bold decision to travel to the small town where it all started to unravel the mystery herself.  Manson, Kentucky is a small town that keeps its secrets - now and in the past.  As Kim slowly comes to terms with her past, she must also come to terms with her 'new' family and the secrets and undercurrents of relationships that were all changed and twisted by the events long ago.  Kim may be struggling to understand what happened and tries to remember the past, the pastis just as frantic and hectic as the Went family struggles to cope with little Sammy's disappearance and the destructive secrets that are uncovered along the way.  Manson is home to many families, including those that belong to the Church of the Light Within - who have rigid religious ideas and use snakes and poison in their religious devotions.  What really happened to little Sammy all those years ago?

I am not ashamed to admit that I love a good crime novel - particularly ones that are fast paced with a twist or two in the tale.  I picked up The nowhere child after seeing it on the request shelf at my local public library (multiple copies of it) meaning lots of people were wanting to read it.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but what I got was a completely absorbing read that I finished in one sitting because I didn't want to put it down.  Christian White has cleverly used alternating chapters to lead the reader through a mystery in two different times, keeping the present moving at a brisk pace while slowly revealing the past and bringing forward hints and clues of what might lie in the future.  The pace is kept up but doesn't prevent character development and it is all too easy to understand how Kim can be so confused and off balance with the discovery that she is not who she thought she was.  The other characters around her come into focus during the course of the novel, like she is seeing some of them for the first time which makes it more realistic and believable.

I thoroughly enjoyed The nowhere child, as did my senior citizen mother, and I have already requested his follow up novel to see if it is as good as The nowhere child.  I read a lot of books and a lot of crime, and this was one of the stand out novels of 2019 for me which is quite impressive.  If White can keep up this standard of writing and keep his ideas fresh and interesting then he has a bright future in this genre - and I wouldn't be surprised if James Patterson comes knocking to collaborate as White also has a sparse, action/drama focused style.  Highly, highly recommended.
If you like this book then try:
  • Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
  • The vanishing season by Joanna Schaffhausen
  • Black & Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Never never by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Spare me the truth by C.J. Carver
  • Vodka doesn't freeze by Leah Giarratano
  • What was mine by Helen Klein Ross
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • The starter wife by Nina Laurin
  • City of the lost by Kelley Armstrong
  • The better sister by Alafair Burke
  • The wife by Alafair Burke

Reviewed by Brilla

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