Today I am sharing my review of ‘Half the World Away’ by Cath Staincliffe. Cath is the author of the Sal Kilkenny private eye stories and creator and scriptwriter of Blue Murder, ITV’s detective drama. She also writes the Scott & Bailey books, based on the much loved ITV1 police series. She has written several standalone novels, which often explore moral dilemmas.
What I thought:
I have read many of Cath Staincliffe’s standalone novels before and found them to be thought-provoking reads, often making me question what I would do if I found myself in the same situation. The situation in Half A World Away, where Jo’s daughter has gone missing overseas, really is every parent’s nightmare. It would be horrendous enough for your child to go missing at home, but for it to happen in a country thousands of miles away in distance and in a country very different to ours culturally must be even worse. Jo’s situation particularly resonated with me as we share almost the same name and the same year of birth and I have teenage daughters, though not quite at the gap year stage yet. I imagined how I would feel in her position and could really empathise with the anguish, fear and dread she was experiencing.
The book was fraught with tension throughout and Cath Staincliffe wrote totally convincingly of the helplessness and frustration felt by Jo and Tom, Lori’s father. They soon find that many of the Chinese people don’t want to be involved in trying to find their lost daughter as they fear bad luck. The expat community are more helpful but Jo and Tom don’t feel the Chinese police and authorities are doing enough to find Lori. There is a very different way of doing things in China and eventually Jo and Tom take matters into their own hands. To make things worse, one of Jo’s sons back home is rushed into hospital for an emergency operation. Everything seems to keep getting worse and I could really sense Jo’s increasing desperation.
This was such an emotional read and completely absorbing. Cath Staincliffe has created yet another gripping and moving story. Although I felt completely drained emotionally by the end, I would like to thank Netgalley and Little, Brown UK for the opportunity to read and review this book.
What the book is about:
Newly graduated photography student Lori Maddox chooses to spend the year after university travelling and visits China where she finds casual work as a private English tutor. Back in Manchester, her parents Joanna and Tom, who separated when Lori was a toddler, follow her adventures on her blog, ‘A slacker’s guide to China’. Lori can be impulsive and disorganised so when, after three months, she stops replying to texts and emails, doesn’t Skype or update her blog there is no immediate cause for worry. But when the silence persists Joanna and Tom become increasingly concerned. It is impossible to find out anything from 5,000 miles away so they have to travel out to Chengdu, a city in the south-western province of Sichuan, try to and find their daughter Landing in a totally unfamiliar country, with no knowledge of the customs or language, and receiving scant help bordering on indifference from the local authorities, Joanna and Tom are forced to turn detective, following in their daughter’s footsteps, tracing the people she mentioned in her posts, interviewing her friends, colleagues and students. It’s an unbearably difficult challenge, made harder as all the reasons for the breakdown of their relationship twenty years earlier resurface with a vengeance. When a woman’s remains are discovered close to the last sightings of Lori it appears that they have found their daughter and a murder inquiry is launched. Devastated, they wait for the police to solve the case, desperate to know who killed Lori and why. But nothing is straightforward and there are more shocks to come before they can leave for home . . .
Half The World Away was published in hardback and ebook on 4th June 2015. You can buy it here: Half the World Away
Follow Cath Staincliffe on Twitter @CathStaincliffe