Post Script: Nowhere Girl – Ruth Dugdall

Cover- Nowhere Girl

Nowhere Girl

Ruth Dugdall

Legend Press

ISBN: 9781910394632

 

Description:

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.

 

My View:

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.

 

 

Post Script: Sweet Wattle Creek – Kaye Dobbie

History has never been so important.

Sweet Wattle Creek Kaye Dobbie Cover

Sweet Wattle Creek

Kaye Dobbie

Harlequin Australia

ISBN: 9781743693087

 Description:

A vintage wedding dress reveals family secrets she never knew…

 

The chance discovery of a vintage wedding dress weaves together the fascinating stories of three women from different eras: Sophie, in hiding from a troubled past; Belle, who must lose everything to learn what really matters; and Martha, forced to give up those she loves in order to avoid exposure.

 

It’s 1930 and Belle Bartholomew has arrived in rural Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance – a run-down grand hotel formerly owned by Martha Ambrose. Determined to solve the mystery of her birth and the reason why she was bequeathed the hotel Belle runs into difficulties with the townsfolk and their desire to keep their secrets safe.

 

Sixty years later Sophie Matheson is on a quest to find Belle and her family after discovering the wedding dress. The Sweet Wattle Creek Centenary brings more challenges when her past catches up and she must fight for all that matters to her. Who were Belle and Martha and what links their lives together?

 

 

My View:

Kaye Dobbie has masterfully married two times fames to produce an exciting narrative that is both historical (1930’s) and contemporary (1980’s) fiction and there are aspects of life in both time periods that are relevant to the world we live in today. I found the history and social commentary of Australia between the wars and of the Great Depression illuminating; PTSD, the aftermath of war on families and communities, poverty, the role of women in society, unemployment were and are significant worldwide issues and it was exciting to learn a little more about this period by the device of using Sophie and Ian’s search for the provenance of the wedding dress.

 

Chapters alternate between the two periods and each chapter is clearly marked with the location, the year and whose voice we are listening to– Sophie’s (1980’s) or Belle’s (1930’s) – there is no chance of getting lost in this duality of time that sometimes happens in novels that employ this device – all is very clear and I thank the author for making it so – I never had to go back and re read to work out where I was or who I was listening to.

 

In both time periods we have protagonists that are strong, determined, resourceful and caring women. Dobbie writes her lead characters with poise, grace and humanity. The issue of small town attitudes and prejudices of the 1930’s – in particular the perceived social, economic and moral attitudes towards the “travellers,” the displaced victims of the Depression is comparable to attitudes today to the to the displaced people of Syria – the same fears and misconceptions surrounding their plight leapt out at me as I read this book. I think there is a lesson or two here we can all take from Belle and Michael’s attitudes of social responsibility.

 

Belle lived in a time of great upheaval, upheaval is a theme that is also prevalent in Sophie’s life too. Sophie’s story evokes much empathy and her situation is just as relevant to many women today as it was back in the 1980’s (no spoilers here.) Dobbie successfully reflects upon attitudes of the time as we discover more about the life and history of both female protagonists.

 

A blend of historical and contemporary fiction, with a dash of empathetic characters, drama, suspense and social commentary and Kaye Dobbie has created a recipe for success.