Dear Child’s tagline is that it starts where other books end and this tactic certainly makes for a gripping read which, without chapters, can easily be read in one-sitting. It is completely absorbing and the reader will take great delight in trying to work out the intense and entangled mystery which unfolds in its pages.
Three female characters are introduced in quick succession: Lena who went missing thirteen years ago, Hannah, an unusual little girl who comes across as much younger than she actually is, and an as yet unnamed victim who opens her mystery with: “On the first day I lose my sense of time, my dignity and a molar.” Later, the reader is introduced to Matthias Beck, the father of the missing girl, Lena, and slowly the story of these intrinsically linked lives is revealed.
Each of the four characters takes on a narrative role and it seems that at the end of each of their sections a tantalising cliffhanger is dropped which only makes the reader want to rush onto their next section to find out what it could all mean.
It is one of those books which encourages the reader to guess what is going to happen next and it is subsequently no surprise that Dear Child remained at the top of the German bestsellers’ lists from its publication in February 2019 right through to the end of the year.
Romy Hausmann’s novel is so well written as to lend itself perfectly to being translated into English (done here by Jamie Bulloch). The narrative is so cleverly crafted that the final reveal comes both quickly but unpredictably. The structure although not linear is perfect to keep the story interesting and when the clever yet disturbing mystery is finally solved the reader cannot help but gasp in realisation and in horror.