New Book – Nowhere Girl by Ruth Dugdall


Publishing year: 2015

In this new Cate Austin mystery, the setting has changed.

Cate has moved from Ipswich to Luxembourg. I have to say that personally, I know next to nothing about Luxembourg. It is quite an unknown country for me, so apart from enjoying the mystery, I might learn a bit about this little country in mid Europe.

The story starts in Schueberfouer, a funfair, and we are introduced to Ellie, a seventeen-year-old girl, rebellious, who has wandered away from her mother Bridget and her sister Gaynor. Ellie gets drawn to an attraction where she sees a couple of attractive teenagers, and then she talks to Malik, whose uncle runs the attraction. When Bridget finds Ellie, she tells her off. It’s clear that the relationship between mother and daughter is not smooth. Apparently, Ellie is seeing a boy, Joe, and when recently she spent the night with him, her parents grounded her, confiscating her mobile phone.

Bridget gives the girls some money to go on the Ferris Wheel. In the meantime, she runs into a man, who she met when she was a nurse for medecins sans frontiers in Algeria. We get to know that Bridget has become depressed since she has to leave her profession to become a mother. She met her husband, Achim, a German banker, and the relationship seemed to go nowhere as they were separated by kilometres. Yet, when Bridget fell pregnant, she married Achim, and moved to Germany, where Bridget could continue her nursing career. Yet, when her husband was transferred to Luxembourg, Bridget became a twenty-four-hour mother, and she became bitter and she feels she’s not good at it.

When Bridget goes to pick up her daughter, she only sees Gaynor, who is with Amelia and Cate. Both girls are in the same class, and when Bridget asks about Ellie, Gaynor tells her that she went with a pair of teenagers, who I imagine are the ones that she saw in the previous attraction. Ellie doesn’t turn up in the funfair or during the night at home, so her father finally reports her disappearance to the police. From the parts where we see Ellie, we know that she’s locked in a caravan, but she has no recollection what happened to her after she went on the Ferris Wheel. I wonder if the boy from Algeria she met in the attraction and his uncle had something to do with her abduction, and if so, what did they do it?

There’s another subplot, which I imagine has to be related with Ellie’s disappearance. We are introduced to Amina, an Algerian girl, whose family sends her to Europe for a better life. Her uncle is Jak, who I imagine is the same man who Bridget talked to in the fair. Amina and some other young people get to Luxembourg. We also know that Amina’s brother is involved with a terrorist group in Paris, and there’s a reference to the terrorist attack against the people working for the magazine that happened last summer. I wonder if all these people have something to do with Ellie’s disappearance. Could Jak have something to do with the girl going missing? If so, what does he want?

Apart from the mystery, we get some insight in Cate’s life at the moment. She admits that when she decided to move to Luxembourg, she didn’t really do it for the allure of the romance with Olivier. She did it to flee the situation at home. She didn’t want to testify against her father to help her sister. I find that quite sad and disappointing. Cate has helped lots of people in her line of work, and now that her sister needs her for something really terrible that happened to her when she was a girl, Cate turns her back to her. I really don’t understand that. Cate is a compassionate, caring woman, so I can’t understand why she’s doing this.


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