The Child's Secret by Amanda Brooke
|The Child's Secret by Amanda Brooke
|Category: Women's Fiction
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris
|Summary: A child is missing and people are pointing fingers but is there more to the story than meets the eye?
|Date: January 2016
|External links: Author's website
There are obvious suspects in any missing child case, with the parents often at the top of the list. In the case of 8 year old Jasmine, though, there's someone else who catches the police's eye: local park worker Sam who has something of an unconventional relationship with the girl. This book starts when Jasmine is missing and ends when her fate is known, but in between it flits back in time to when Sam meets the family, through his dating of Jasmine's school teacher, and the times their paths have crossed since then.
This book has a mystery to it – after all, we all want to know what has happened to Jasmine – but there's a lot to it than that. Stories like this are often told from the point of view of a detective or someone else working on the case, but here we only have Sam's perspective, interspersed with a little of Laura's. For this reason, it's hard to know what the police are objectively thinking at any point, but easy to be swayed by what Sam is saying. There may be twists, as frequently is the case in both real life and fictitious worlds, but it's still hard to resist siding with Sam and taking what he says at face value.
Jasmine is a sweet, if dim, girl. Her mother is similar in many ways, but her father Finn brings a fiery dimension to their home life. He's not a nice man, and he's one of the first to point the finger of suspicion at Sam…but could he be right? Sam's landlady Selina has more of a supporting role and, like an itch you cannot scratch, is always just out of reach of the story. From the start it seems there must be more to her, but she remains at arms length for quite some time. Anna, Sam's girlfriend and Jasmine's teacher, rounds off the cast list. I couldn't quite get a reading on her, because she seemed to become someone else after a while.
This story is predominantly set in Liverpool, and a lot of the exploits are either in the park where Sam works, or on trips away to Wales. I've not read a book based in the north for some time and it was good to get a perspective of the world outside London. At the same time, I appreciated the lack of accent and dialect in the writing. I may be a nice northern girl but it still grates at times when people don't speak 'properly'.
I thought the story developed well but I was unaware until the very end of where, and in what state, Jasmine might be found. I couldn't quite believe the suspicion that was developing, but I struggled to construct an alternative scenario in my head. It was pretty good, with lots of mini mysteries to uncover before you could move on to the grand finale.
I would recommend this book as a mystery that's not too gory, a thriller that's not too scary. While I thought the Wishing Tree angle was a little over-done by the end, the general premise kept me hooked and I had to keep reading to get closure on Jasmine.
Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.
Missing children, plural, feature in Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton along with a unique setting and a thrilling story. We've also enjoyed Another Way to Fall by Amanda Brooke. You might also enjoy The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Child's Secret by Amanda Brooke at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Child's Secret by Amanda Brooke at Amazon.com.
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