Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Nowhere Girl – Ruth Dugdall

Psychological Thriller 3*s
Psychological Thriller

I have followed Ruth Dugdall since her first book featuring Cate Austin, The Woman Before Me, which really impressed me, as have The Sacrificial Man and Humber Boy B. One of the things I most admire about this series is that the author presents very different types of story, whilst keeping the chief protagonist as the link. Nowhere Girl is no different, this time Cate is in Luxembourg, no longer a Probation Officer, but that doesn’t stop her getting caught up in a crime.

Bridget has relented and taken her two daughters, Ellie and Gaynor to the opening day of Scheuberfouer, a carnival of festivities in Luxembourg, despite the fact that Ellie appears to be in the midst of a teenage rebellion Cate and her boyfriend Olivier Massard, have taken Cate’s daughter Amelia to enjoy the the rides and the stalls and after getting caught up in the traffic the evening seems set for a night of innocent excitement. Ruth Dugdall sets the scene beautifully and so it is all the more shocking, that Bridget and Gaynor return home without Ellie, she is missing and worse still the police don’t seem to be mounting any particularly great effort to find her. As Amelia and Gaynor attend the great school and Cate at somewhat at a loose end whilst Olivier, a Detective is busy at work, Cate offers to lend a hand with the school runs as Bridget despairs of ever seeing her daughter again.

Alongside this story we hear the tale of two girls, Jodie and Amina who find themselves in a house in Luxembourg after their parents sought a better life for them. While Amina is relatively happy working in the salon alongside Auntie, she isn’t getting the schooling she imagined and she is worried about what her brother will say back home when he realises she’s left home, a devout man, following the death of their father he is the man of the house. Meanwhile Jodie the brave strong one as they made their treacherous journey across the boarders soon becomes increasingly withdrawn after she begins work as a stooge for Jak at the fair.

This twisting tale is told through the number of days Ellie is missing. We see the tale unfold through Ellie eyes, her mother’s in anguished letters to her daughter, Amina’s struggle in a new country as well as piecing together Cate’s new domestic arrangements through her chronicle. Although Ellie’s story is the most arresting, Amina’s and by default the household in which she was living in was not without its own powerful storyline although I felt that Jodie’s story was somewhat side-lined once the girls arrived in Luxembourg.

I found the story captivating although I had a real struggle with some of Cate’s decisions, statements and actions. I think the author was illustrating that Cate who has escaped one difficult domestic situation and swapped it for one with different complexities was struggling without an anchor, but her behaviour seemed too erratic and foolhardy for the woman I had come to know, and admire in the previous books.

This is the first book I’ve read set in Luxembourg and the scene setting for the country, as well as giving the context in relation to those who are on its boarders, was excellently done. I also enjoyed the school gate scenes where it was apparent that the ex-pat community has its own hierarchy, in line with any other social gathering, the author really gave a feeling of the types of parents which was in stark contrast to the seedier goings on the other side of town.

I will definitely be interested to see what is in store for Cate now her difficulties in England have reached a conclusion and I can’t help but wonder how she’ll feel when she reflects on this part of her life. I’d like to thank the publishers Legend Press for giving me a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. Nowhere Girl will be published on 31 October 2015.

Previous Books by Ruth Dugdall

The James Version
The Woman Before Me – Cate Austin #1
The Sacrificial Man – Cate Austin #2
Humber Boy B – Cate Austin #3


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

12 thoughts on “Nowhere Girl – Ruth Dugdall

  1. I do like the setting of this one, Cleo. And it takes talent to keep so many points of view going throughout the story. Interesting! I do know what you mean, though, about Cate’s choices. I like my characters to behave credibly, if I can put it that way. Still, it sounds like this is a solid continuation of the series.


    1. This book had many good points but the change in Cate, viewed through the choices she made, were hard to accept which pulled me out of the story a bit. Still the next chapter in an interesting series which doesn’t shy away from complex subjects.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shame it wasn’t quite as good as the earlier ones, but it sounds as if it still had some interesting stuff going on. I thought the whole move to Luxembourg thing was a bit odd in Humber Boy B – it all seemed to happen so quickly. But maybe she just wanted to set the next book there…


  3. Thanks for the review, Cleo. It’s also really interesting for me to read the comments by other readers. Yes, my own move to Luxembourg was sudden, and motivated me to write Nowhere Girl. The idea came quickly, when I read about attempted kidnappings in the area…
    Cate was my vehicle for my own anxiety about being in a foreign place, and it is true that she is out of her comfort zone! The book felt different to any of my others, and I went with the flow. Now is that scary time when the readers judge…and I’m grateful to those who take the time to do so.
    Reviews like this are always much appreciated, and I listen carefully to what is being said. After all, I have another book to write!
    Best wishes, Ruth.


    1. Thank you so very much for taking the time to comment Ruth – as you will see, I have been a fan for a long while and yours is one of the names I suggest when people ask me for suggestions. I’m glad I worked out why Cate was behaving the way she was (even if I didn’t fully approve and I don’t want to spoil it for readers by pointing out the exact episode that really caused me to doubt her actions)
      I’m delighted the series will continue, I liked the setting very much indeed, I’ve only ever passed through and you really bought it to life!


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