Book Review: The Girl in the Green Dress by Cath Staincliffe

The Girl in the Green Dress

They Say:

Teenager Allie Kennaway heads off for prom night, cheered on by her dad Steve and little sister Teagan. But Allie never comes home, beaten to death in an apparent hate crime because of her transgender identity. As police investigate the brutal murder, a crime that has appalled the country, one parent is at her wit’s end with her son’s behaviour. Are his outbursts and silences hiding something much darker than adolescent mood swings? And if her suspicions are correct, then what does she do? Another parent will fight tooth and nail to save his boy from the full force of the law. After all, blood is thicker than water and everyone should look after their own. But if he succeeds then Allie and her family will never get the justice they deserve.

A groundbreaking story of love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, in a world of change.

I Say:

Although I enjoyed this book and read it in a couple of days, I have to say that I prefer some of Cath Staincliffe’s other books (such as Blink of an Eye).

I didn’t really identify with her investigating team. Whilst feeling some sympathy for DI Donna Bell juggling her working life with her attempts to look after her five children and husband, Jim, the main child caregiver, I felt completely ambivalent to DS Jade Bradshaw. An unsympathetic character who has mental health issues linked to some unspecified trauma in her past life. She takes anti-psychotic medication, has friends in the criminal underworld and lives in a flat in a squalid block with a couple of elderly neighbours. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the main characters and I found myself skipping through the ‘Jade’ chapters.

We learnt a lot about DI Donna Bell’s home life; so much so that I wondered if Cath Staincliffe is planning a series of books with Donna Bell as the main character. I’ve just checked her website and learnt that the second book featuring Bell and Bradshaw is due to be published in July 2020.

The story deals with transgender issues and reflects the different views and attitudes of various members of the community. It is a book about grief and hate but, at its heart, it is a story about the relationships between parents and their children and how far a parent will go to protect their child.

What Others Say:

‘This is a wonderful novel, powerful, humane and moving. It’s also one of the best police procedurals I’ve read this year’

Anne Cleeves

‘Harrowing and humane. A real knockout’

Ian Rankin

Remarkable depth … The most grown-up writer in British crime fiction


The Verdict

Worth reading. Why not get a copy from your library or local bookseller?

My Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

© Michelle Le Grand
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