Half the World Away by Cath Staincliffe

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Half the World Away by Cath Staincliffe

Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A crime story that didn’t quite thrill me, Half the World away is nonetheless an interesting read that skilfully evokes both modern day China, and every parent’s nightmare…
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: June 2015
Publisher: Constable
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1472117977

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Newly graduated Lori Maddox spends the year after University travelling, and visits China – working as a private English tutor. Back in Manchester, her estranged parents follow her adventures on her blog, 'Lori in the Orient'. When all communication stops and silence persists, the parents report her missing, and learning that there is little they can do from Manchester, set out to China in order to search for their daughter. Flying to Chengdu, they have no knowledge of the country, customs or language, and are forced to turn detective in order to save their daughter…

If the above sounds at all familiar, it’s because stories like the above are printed in the press on a regular basis. There is no denying that gap years can be a wonderful idea for people to explore new cultures, to gain a sense of independence, and to have one last big hurrah before settling down to either university or work. But, horror stories of kidnap and murder on gap years show up in the press on a fairly regular basis – so it is more than a ripe subject for novelist Cath Staincliffe to have a go at. Hugely prolific, Staincliffe has written twenty-two books, all crime based and mainly set around Manchester. This is the first in which she really goes further afield, and the majority of the story is set in China. Thankfully, this works in Staincliffe’s favour. The China in Half the World Away is evocative and vivid, but also a confusing, dark world full of unknowns and dangers.

The characters are well drawn, and having the reader be allowed to see Lori’s blog posts works well – when she disappears we are as much in the dark as her parents, and it creates both instant empathy, and a desire to find out the answers. Staincliffe then cleverly answers questions as the book goes on, but is constantly creating more – even in the closing pages, which leaves one eager to turn the pages, and a quick read over all.

A fast paced read with likable characters and a strong sense of mystery, this is an enjoyable read. However, I didn’t feel the sense of fear or thrill that this book was trying to create – perhaps due to my lack of children? Nevertheless, this is an easy read – I’d recommend as a decent airport or holiday read. Although possibly not if you’re going to China…

For further reading – I know most will have read this already, but Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is definitely the best thriller of recent years. Chilling, thrilling, and unputdownable.

Buy Half the World Away by Cath Staincliffe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Half the World Away by Cath Staincliffe at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Half the World Away by Cath Staincliffe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Half the World Away by Cath Staincliffe at Amazon.com.


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