Thursday, 15 February 2018

Book review : Saving Sophie - Sam Carrington

Things at work have been incredibly hectic lately, which always means I turn to a gripping, chilling, grisly work of crime fiction to keep me sane - it's my little bit of escapism, taking my mind off everything to do with work as I'm sucked into the emotional, gut-churning story unfolding on the pages, and the jolt of adrenaline at the exciting bits saves me from falling asleep in front of the telly as soon as I sit on the settee !

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington was another of the books that I picked up on the three-for-a-fiver shelf at The Works. The strapline on the front cover instantly intrigued me - "A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?" - and the fact that the daughter was called Sophie, just like my own teenage daughter, had me smiling wryly. When I started reading and learned that the husband was called Mike, it started to seem a bit freaky though. Luckily the mum was called Karen, not Cheryl, or I think I'd have run screaming from the room !

I'm pleased to say that my own teenage daughter is not into drinking or nights out with her friends just yet, like the Sophie in the book, but I'm sure it won't be too much further down the track, so I could really empathise with the horror and apprehension of the parents when their 17-year-old is dropped off by the police after being found wandering around after a night out with her friends, totally out of her head on drink or drugs, with no memory of how she got into such a state. When her best friend still hasn't resurfaced the next day, a missing person's inquiry is launched. Then a body is discovered. This is just the start of a sickening cat-and-mouse game of manipulation and revenge, made all the worse by Karen's crippling agoraphobia, brought on by the trauma of an attack several years earlier.

The impact of the novel comes from the fact that you can really put yourself in the parents' place, as they live their worst nightmare. Karen immediately asks all the right questions : Why can't Sophie remember anything? How could she have got so drunk so quickly?  Did anything untoward happen in the taxi that was supposed to have brought her home? - but, as a parent myself, I couldn't understand why she didn't take the next step to get to the bottom of things or at least calm her fears, especially when it turned into a murder inquiry. In her shoes, I'd have asked the police to run a drugs test (I instantly thought about Sophie having her drink spiked explaining the memory loss) and taken her to a doctor to check there were no signs of sexual assault. As the book progressed and more and more warning signs started flashing, along with some huge clues and pieces of evidence coming to light that could clearly help to piece together the investigation, it became frustrating to see that everyone, from Sophie and Karen to the police themselves, seemed intent on ignoring every possible lead. After finding incriminating evidence on Sophie's phone, for example, the police decide not to mention it to see if she will bring it up herself at some point. Again, when she inadvertently reveals that she knows details of the crime scene that have never been made public, the inspectors share a meaningful look but don't challenge her about it. With the killer of a teenage girl on the loose, I'm pretty sure the police would have been relentlessly following every lead, however small, and working on the assumption that speed is of the essence. Similarly, when Karen realises that her daughter is in trouble, then discovers her murdered dog in her bath, she still sits down for a coffee and a chat with her daughter's best friend. I just wanted to shake the whole lot of them for being so passive and unresponsive - there's a limit to how much anyone, parent or child, would be willing to hide from the police when things got really serious and potentially dangerous.

The end also left me feeling slightly unsatisfied as it seemed unrealistic. Once again, the police fail to react and use the clues they've uncovered, and, while I was happy that the parents finally decided to get proactive and do something, their actions seemed totally out of character and their response to certain bombshells strangely calm. The red herrings and web of manipulation are also brushed aside too swiftly - I would have liked some deeper analysis of how the events came to pass and how each character played their part in the whole sorry mess.

Despite all these niggles, I did really enjoy the book though. It's a chilling look at every parent's worst nightmare, particularly poignant for me as I'm on the cusp of this whole new era of parenting myself and the character shared my own daughter's name. The plot is gripping and emotionally wrought and I could empathise with the characters, even if I frequently shook my head at their inability to act.

star rating : 4/5

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (15 Dec. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0008191816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008191818


  1. The coincidence with names does sound a bit freaky. As for the parents and police not following the clues, I'd find it frustrating too. And the memory loss sounds rather obvious. I'll see if I can find this book in The Works, when I visit it for my next fix.

  2. I read a book similar to this one. It is a hard topic to read for any parents. It is a book I will definitely read. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sounds good. The teenager years seem to be coming round quick


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