- Book: Dear Child
- Location: Bavaria
- Author: Romy Hausmann
“This thriller starts where others end…”
13 years ago, 23 year old Lena Beck went missing. Now, in the present, a woman has been involved in a car accident and has been taken to hospital. It seems this might be Lena. She has a child in tow, little Hannah, who is aged 13. The child’s age and Lena’s disappearance are too much of a coincidence to be overlooked.
They are taken to hospital and it gradually becomes clear that the woman they have picked up has been held against her will and flashbacks reinforce a time of trauma and abuse. It appears they lived in a shack in the middle of a forest, where a ventilation system administered by the perpetrator meant life or death for the occupants. A woman and two children, conditioned by brutal behaviour – and now, they are free.
But people who have been regimented and coerced – how ever long – become accustomed to behaving in a certain way. You have to conform to survive. The children – Hannah and her younger brother Jonathan – have learned during their time in the shack not to eat sugary things, they have had their daily tutoring, they have learned to acquiesce to their dominating paternal figure. Mum has to nurture and teach and be available to the perpetrator in all kinds of ways.
In the background are Lena’s parents who have been living with her absence for 13 years. The discovery of this young woman gives them hope, particularly when they meet Hannah, who is the spit of their daughter.
This is a carefully crafted mystery that keeps the tension taught throughout and bowls along at a really good pace. There are gentle twists and turns which just fit together like a good jigsaw – you may raise an eyebrow at certain turns of event, but in the next chapter it all becomes clear. I found it a gripping read. The translation is excellent as you would expect from Jamie Bulloch.
This is definitely one to watch, this will be a big Summer 2020 read.