The Nowhere Child by Christian White

 

‘Mind if I join you?’

Kim Leamy is a photography teacher in Melbourne, Australia.  She’s taking a break between classes when she’s approached by a stranger.  He shows her a photograph:

‘Her name is Sammy Went.  This photo was taken on her second birthday.  Three days later she was gone.’

He says that he is investigating the disappearance of Sammy Went from her home in Kentucky twenty-eight years earlier.  He believes that Kim is Sammy.  Kim believes that he is mistaken, but when she starts looking into her family background she finds that some questions can’t be easily answered.  Kim has happy memories of her childhood with loving parents.  But she can find no photographs of herself as a baby.  Curious and in search of the truth, Kim travels to Manson, Kentucky to find out more about Sammy.  What she discovers is a twisted mess of secrets, of conspiracy, involving a religious cult.

While some aspects of this story are predictable, there are a few twists which I did not expect. Those twists kept me turning the pages and kept me in suspense until very close to the end of the novel.  This is Mr White’s debut novel.  I hope that it is the first of many.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith