“The girl in the red coat” by Kate Hamer

Everyone is acquainted with the feeling of blind panic that comes about when you lose something valuable such as a wallet.  It is almost as though your senses converge and ALL you can think about is finding your lost item.  Then, imagine that feeling magnified exponentially…  for it is a precious child you have lost.

This is the tale of a loving mother and daughter who become separated.  Beth, a single mother living in Norfolk, England and her eight year-old daughter, Carmel.  They are everything to each other.  Carmel is a precocious, sensitive, and intelligent little girl who loves books, words, drawing, and animals.  For a special treat Beth takes Carmel to a story-telling fair.  A sort of carnival with tents set up in a big field.  Each tent features a person reading from a book.  Books are for sale there as well.   When a ‘sea fog‘ rolls in they become separated.

Carmel is abducted by who she believes to be her grandfather – but who is actually an unethical American preacher.  As I read this novel I was filled with a sense of disquieting unease.  The man that has taken Carmel is not physically unkind to her, but he is emotionally cruel.  However, his warped thinking prohibits the reader from hating him too much… He believes in faith healing and he also believes that Carmel has the ability to heal by ‘the laying on of the hands‘.  His belief is well founded.

The Girl in the Red Coat” is told in short chapters alternating from Beth’s to Carmel’s point of view.  Carmel’s story is told in an eight year-old’s voice and is done so with skill and empathy.  Beth’s story, equally tragic, is one of a mother clinging to hope, trying to cope with equal parts guilt and despair.  It tells of the little mind games she plays, making ‘bargains’ with God as the days without Carmel turn into weeks, then months…

Despite their mutual tragedy, life rolls on bringing about its own guilt and separate experiences.  New people enter the lives of both Beth and Carmel.

Stories play a huge part in this novel.   The ones loved by the protagonists as well as the ones the protagonists tell themselves in order to endure the unthinkable events that have occurred in their lives.  It’s not really a mystery because we know whodunit.   It is the senseless tragedy of the situation that plays upon the reader’s psyche.

It is the writing that sets this novel apart from other tales of missing/abducted children. The characters were unforgettable and the sentences were wrought with vivid imagery.  It is difficult to believe that this is a debut novel.

F 5 star

This painting by Ken Barclay depicts how I imagined Carmel to look:

Girl In A Red Coat - 20101029_10

TLC Book Tours has sponsored a giveaway for a print copy of “The Girl in the Red Coat“.  To enter just ‘Like‘ or ‘Comment‘ on this blog post during the month of February 2016. The winner will be chosen via Random.org


Thanks to Melville House via TLC Book Tours and Edelweiss for providing me with this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Here is a great article about Kate Hamer I found online from the Independent.

The Girl with the Red Coat” is **Finalist for the Costa Book Award for First Novel**  and **Finalist for the Dagger Award**

A reading guide for the novel can be found here.

about the author red

Kate Hamer


KATE HAMER is a winner of the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize. Girl in the Red Coat is her first novel. It is shortlisted for the Costa Book Award for First Novel and a finalist for The Dagger Award. She lives in Cardiff, Wales with her husband and two children.


About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Edelweiss, Favorite books, Fiction, Giveaways, Mystery fiction, Psychological thrillers, TLC Book Tours, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to “The girl in the red coat” by Kate Hamer

  1. Pingback: #BookRecommendations with titles that start with the letter ‘G’ #booklovers #bookbloggers #GreatReads | Fictionophile

  2. Pingback: “The doll funeral” by Kate Hamer | Fictionophile

  3. This one sounds really interesting.

    Great review!


  4. Pingback: The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer • Bewitched Bookworms

  5. As a parent, stories like this are terrifying to me, particularly when the author makes it seem so real.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


  6. Pingback: Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat, on tour February/March 2016 | TLC Book Tours

  7. carlissa904 says:

    What a wonderful review! I really want to read this book now, and I love the picture!


  8. Dovile says:

    Thank you for the giveaway!


  9. Leah says:

    I’ve read quite a few good reviews for this book. I can’t wait to read this!


  10. I would love to win a copy of “The Girl in the Red Coat”. I am very intrigued after reading your very moving review.


  11. I would love to read this book. I am intrigued after reading your moving review.


  12. Annie says:

    A wonderful review captured my interest in this enthralling novel. Thanks for this feature and giveaway.


  13. Ellie says:

    Thanks for this intriguing feature, wonderful giveaway and excellent review. This novel interests me greatly.


  14. Ah this was my very first review on my blog! I loved it, so much more than trying to do a classic ‘whodunit’ it was great to see both perspectives and try to understand the motives, great review.


  15. Techeditor says:

    I’m anxious to read this book because I’ve read so many good reviews, including yours. Thanks.


    • skyecaitlin says:

      Your comment makes me anxious to locate a copy. Something about this book, cover or title triggered a memory within my subconscious….!


  16. skyecaitlin says:

    This looks extremely interesting and unusual.


  17. crimeworm says:

    This is one from last year I really do want to read. I missed out on it as there were too many “missing children” books to cope with! I do hope that fashion has had its day….this was one of the best, apparently, so fingers crossed!


  18. MyBookJacket says:

    This sounds fantastic! And the addition of the painting in your review makes me want to read it more. I do hope no harm came upon her.


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