Published 31st October 2015 by Legend Press
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 realises 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 centre 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.
This is the fourth outing for probation officer, Cate Austin. I have previously read The Woman Before Me and Humber Boy B and am a huge fan of Ruth Dugdall’s work. I consider Humber Boy B to be one of my favourite reads of 2015. It was a bold step taking Cate away from her job in the probation service and the UK. It opens up all kinds of possibilities for Cate.
This story follows on from Humber Boy B. Cate has been traumatised by her recent probation cases. She is burnt out. She has taken a year off from her post and moved to Luxembourg to be with her new boyfriend. Cate just wants to put everything that happened behind her, including the awful court case involving her family. A teenage girl goes missing at the fairground. Cate happens to be there, with her daughter and sees the mother in despair. She slowly becomes drawn into the case, while her partner Olivier is investigating officially for the police.
I do think this is one story that probably cannot be read as a standalone. I think that it is important to fully understand what Cate has been through personally and why she gave up her career.
Ruth Dugdall presents us with a missing child story from multiple perspectives and a social commentary on illegal immigration. Mostly though, it is about women. We hear from Cate navigating her new life, the missing teenage Ellie trying to make sense of it all, the mother desperate for love and an illegal immigrant Amina hoping for a better life. I felt for Amina and the lack of real opportunities for her. It was good to hear a positive voice from a demonised sector of society.
I was very intrigued by Cate’s move to Luxembourg. Moving to a new country with a fairly new relationship is taking a massive risk. Cate seemed less confident, without her probation officer armour. She just seems to make multiple mistakes. She plays at being a housewife. She cannot help but be drawn to the missing person’s case and to the darker side of life. That is what she knows. She seems to have fallen into a rushed relationship with Olivier. The missing person case seems to tear apart Cate and Olivier. It highlights the superficiality of their relationship. I had doubts about their compatibility in Humber Boy B. They were reinforced here.
I found it a strong and incredibly sad story, with fragile relationships at its heart. Ruth Dugdall knows how to wring an emotional response out of the reader. And the twist was just heart breaking.
Thanks to Jessica at Legend Press for my review copy.