Publisher: Minotaur Books (January 22, 2019)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
In the spring of 1990, in the small town of Manson, Kentucky, two-year old Sammy Went vanished without a trace. There were no witnesses, no ransom notes, only a vague sighting of a tall man in a car nearby and a small, muddied stuffed gorilla in the woods behind the house.
Twenty-eight years later, in Melbourne, Australia, Kimberly Leamy was living her life, teaching photography and spending time with her step-father and younger sister. She’d grown up in a loving, supportive family; only the loss of her mother to cancer four years prior put a damper on her contented life.
Her world was rocked when an American accountant, Stuart Went, approached her one day, called her by her name, and asked her to have coffee with him. He proceeded to tell her an unbelievable story. His little sister Sammy had vanished from their home in Kentucky, leaving no trace. Most of the family and the authorities had accepted that she was dead, but Stuart didn’t believe it. He’d been looking for Sammy ever since, racking down hundreds of leads. All his research led him to one conclusion: Kim was Sammy.
Kim refused to believe her gentle, loving mother could have kidnapped the child, taking her halfway across the world, raising her as her own. She began to have doubts, though, when she discovered there were no photos of her before age two. When Stuart admitted that he’d secretly taken a DNA sample from her coffee cup, sent it off with his own sample, and received results showing an indisputable sibling match, she had to face the possibility that her whole life had been a lie. Her mother had never told her who her father was, and now she understood why. When she confronted her step-father, he admitted he knew she was not her mother’s child. She stormed out of the house and told Stuart she was ready to return to Kentucky to face her past.
Her parents’ marriage had been in trouble before Sammy’s disappearance. The loss of their child sent her birth mother Molly into a deep depression. She and Jack were both members of the Church of the Light Within, a Pentecostal fundamentalist sect with strict rules and snake handling. Jack had never been very committed to the faith and began to pull away. Molly embraced it with all her heart and soul, leaving Jack to take care of the house and the children, Emmie and Stuart. They had divorced after a few miserable years.
Kit learned she had three living Went relatives in addition to Stuart. He had told her little about them, and she wasn’t sure what to expect. Her grandmother welcomed her with joy. Her sister was cordial enough, but her actions behind Sammy’s back threw the spotlight on the story she’d wanted to keep private. Her mother Molly—well, Molly was a mystery, an unpleasant surprise, a total enigma.
In trying to uncover her past, Kit stumbled upon twists and turns and secrets she could not have imagine when she started this journey. People she thought she knew became strangers; people who should have loved her betrayed her. And then there were the snakes: so many snakes.
THE NOWHERE CHILD is a top-notch psychological thriller with an intricate plot, well-fleshed out characters, and suspense that ramps up to an almost unbearable level. Highly recommended.
Copyright © 2019 Shirley Wetzel. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!