A psychological crime novel from an author with 10 years’ experience as a probation officer in high security prisons.
When Ellie goes missing on the first day of Schueberfouer, the police are dismissive, keen not to attract negative attention on one of Luxembourg’s most important events, its annual city fair. Probation officer Cate Austin has moved for a fresh start, along with her daughter Amelia, to live with her police detective boyfriend, Olivier Massard. But when she realizes just how casually he is taking the disappearance of Ellie, Cate decides to investigate matters for herself. She discovers Luxembourg has a dark heart. With its geographical position, could it be the center of a child trafficking ring? As Cate comes closer to discovering Ellie’s whereabouts she uncovers a hidden world, placing herself in danger, not just from traffickers, but from a source much closer to home.
An intriguing novel that has a more reflective tone than past works I have read by this author. Ruth Dugdall continues with her Cate Austin’s series but in this episode Cate and her daughter have followed Cate’s new partner detective Oliver Massard to Luxembourg where he lives and works. As Dugdall’s characters embark on a journey of change – a new lifestyle and culture, the emphasis of Dugdall’s writing is likewise extended to include a more global outlook; the crimes of child trafficking and prostitution, the effect of extremist religious beliefs and the subsequent displacement of people trying to escape persecution, PTSD…global issues are juxtaposed against the domestic crime of a local kidnapping. Another layer is added to the narrative when more of Cate’s personal life is revealed as she battles with issues of the past – some things you cannot whitewash over…the past and the present are irrevocably connected and until acknowledged Cate seems “stuck” in an existence that is not true to herself. So many levels of tension in this narrative.
This narrative has a familiar introduction – as you read you experience that feeling of dread, you know something abhorrent is about to happen and so you keep reading; Ellie is kidnapped at the fair. The other main characters are added to the mix and I was intrigued by Amina and Jodie’s voices – again that feeling of dread, the anticipation of all that could go wrong…and it does! What choices do these poor girls have? Continue reading and the web of intrigue and Cate’s internal conflicts grow- and then the biggest most surprising reveal of all! I could not believe this! Totally unexpected and…sad.
Ruth Dugdall can always be relied upon to give your social conscience a pinch! Wake up world – look around you.