Book Review: Nowhere Girl, by Ruth Dugdall

Publisher:  Legend Press  |  Publication date:  31st October 2015  |  Edition: Kindle (Review Copy, via Netgalley)

Nowhere Girl - Review

Nowhere Girl by Ruth DugdallNowhere Girl is tale of many threads, interweaving to make one hell of a turbulent thriller.

Immediately you will notice the lack of chapter headings, which are replaced by the sequential number of days that pass as the story progresses. For me this is an excellent idea. It offered a rolling reality to the circumstances that unfolded; the torment isn’t left behind at the end of a chapter, as the unique voice of each character is begging to tell you more, and you will be compelled to listen.

Told over a ten day period we follow the disappearance of a ‘wild child’ from a busy fair in Luxembourg. Ellie has a brief history of going A.W.O.L. and for that reason the authorities don’t appear overly bothered when her family reports her missing and simply treat her case like that of a teenage runaway. A ‘problem at home’ doesn’t warrant press coverage and besides, there’s no point in releasing the whiff of something nasty in the air unless it’s absolutely necessary.

But there were more shadowy figures lurking at that fair than the Ghost Train could conjure in a lifetime. It was clear from the offset that Ellie would not evade them all.

Fraught with worry, her mother waits for news. In a bid to cope with her grief of losing her daughter, Ellie, she begins to write heartfelt letters sharing her inner-most feelings, including the reasons for any harsh decisions she may have made and her past as a nurse in war torn countries. It becomes clear that the effects of her previous occupation still resonates today and has struck a mental chord. Something is certainly out of tune in their domestic situation.

Recently relocated to Luxembourg is ex-probation Officer, Cate who is trying to look out for Ellie’s mum. This is more difficult as is sounds, as her partner is also in charge of investigating the missing person’s case. Her loyalties are torn between her boyfriend’s wishes and his frustrating aloofness at times, and worrying that not enough is being done to trace the poor young girl. Cate forges ahead and does a little discreet digging of her own. Before long she discovers she’s in waaaay too deep.

Running alongside Ellie’s plight is the journey of Amina and Jodie, whose families have arranged for them to ‘have a better life’. The young teens are looking forward to an adventure, gaining an education and most of all the freedom – yet they are blissfully unaware that their fate was sealed the moment they stepped foot in the van that would take them away from their villages. But among their tragedy there is a fragment of hope when one of the girls befriends a poorly, little lad.

The individual events make for a shocking and tense story of survival on every level, as secrets and lies ooze from the pages like open wounds. This may be the first book I have read by Ruth Dugdall, but it certainly won’t be my last. THIS is cracking fiction, yet has the power to feel disturbingly real.

Rating: 5/5

(My thanks to Legend Press and Jessica Reid for inviting me to review this title and providing a digital copy of the book via Netgalley. It’s much appreciated.)

Nowhere Girl - Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

When Ellie goes missing on the first day of Schueberfouer, the police are dismissive, keen not to attract negative attention of one of Luxembourg’s most important events. 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 how casually he is taking the disappearance of Ellie, Cate decides to investigate matters for herself. She discovers Luxembourg has a dark hear. With its geographical position, could is 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.


Nowhere Girl - Author Links

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Ruth Dugdall worked as a Probation Officer for almost a decade in high security prisons in the Suffolk area. Now living in Luxembourg, she is currently working at a local prison. Ruth has years of experience working with children who have been convicted of murder, having been based at one of the UK’s 3 prisons that specialise in this area. Ruth’s writing is heavily influenced by her professional background, providing authenticity and credibility to the crime genre.

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