Synopsis (from Amazon)
The 1980s. Kate Meaney is a serious-minded and curious young girl – who spends her time with her toy monkey acting out the role of a junior detective. She notes goings-on at the Green Oaks shopping centre and in her street, particularly the newsagents, where she is friends with the owner’s son Adrian. When she disappears, Adrian falls under suspicion. 2004: 30-something Lisa strikes up a friendship with a security guard in protest at her own futile relationship. Following CCTV glimpses of Kate, they become entranced by the lost girl and the history of Green Oaks…
I live in Birmingham and apparently Green Oaks is based on Merry Hill, where Catherine O’Flynn used to work. She’s got the atmosphere just right, a kind of forced brightness which when you really think about it is actually quite oppressive. Like lets make a big box but we’ll make it nice by making shiny glass and marble and having green patches, but really there will be no proper natural light, just very bright artificial lights, and it will be ‘lovely’ and ‘warm’. I never liked Merry Hill, but O’Flynn seems to capture both what people see in Merry Hill and why other people hate it, it’s kind of balanced. I did really enjoy this book. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, it was more about different people’s lives than about child going missing- but those lives were somehow connected to the girl. In a way it was about how the event effected the future, and about the girl it happened to. I suppose the missing girl is more the glue that holds the story together, not a story on its own but connecting everything that needs to be connected. In another way I found it predictable. I did guess ‘who did it’ (highlight to view spoiler) although I imagined it happening differently- I expected it to be a purposeful act rather than what was really an accident. And I didn’t make the connection between the man in the past and who he was in the present.