Title: The Girl in the Red Coat
Author: Kate Hamer
Summary: She is the missing girl. But she doesn’t know she’s lost.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story was written from two different voices, that of both Carmel and her mother Beth. A style of writing which I always find gives a richness and depth to the story by offering two distinctive view points on one incident. As the chapters are quite short, and in order to accommodate this technique, you really do need to read this book in relatively big chunks (not half the book!) in order to follow the story and get drawn into the pace and intrigue of the kidnapping and resulting fall out.
The more poignant and heart-wrenching story is that of Carmel’s mother Beth. Carmel is her world, especially after her husband left her for another woman. Even before her daughter’s disappearance she is a worrier and struggles with being overprotective. After the kidnapping, her life is blown apart and as the time passes her plight becomes more desperate as the police and well-meaning friends soon forget and leave her to her own guilt, fear and loneliness.
This is a stunning and intricate debut that draws you in and keeps the momentum and question of whether mother and daughter will be reunited to the bitter end.
Where: Cinnamon Soho
What: ‘Signature modern Indian food with a nod to British favourites’
Service: Not great they were either understaffed or just surprisingly busy but it was slightly haphazard and inattentive – waited quite some time for both menus and a simple jug of tap water.
Drink: A welcome cocktail – this was a mango smoothie tasty but unnecessary. Then we asked about what beers they had from a waiter rushing past and without much information we defaulted to Tiger – a pint was brought and ended up being £5 which seemed expensive – also we weren’t offered any size options.
Food: Booktable deal offered 8 dishes tasting menu for two people.
- Steamed chickpea cakes with coconut chutney (v)
When this arrived we weren’t 100% sure what it was – it was bit like eating a spicy Victoria sponge cake with a green mouse – but it was surprisingly light and had a hint of spice.
- Indo-Chinese style chicken with burnt chillies
This was my favourite. The chicken was moist and sticky with the sauce and the burnt chillies packed a mean punch that lingered long after the chicken had been demolished. Definitely could eat this as a main course!
- Papdi Chaat – crisp wheat, spiced potatoes & chutney (v)
This was served surround by a nice cooling yogurt, the crisp wheat was a new taste and texture for me and was really well balanced with the soft chunky chutney.
- Stir-fried shrimp with curry leaf & black pepper
Great helping of prawns that were slightly crispy and tasted lovely and fresh with zesty undercurrents from the lightly pickled cucumber and carrot salad.
- Slow braised pork belly with honey & chilli glaze (GF)
Melt in the mouth the sizable piece of meat cut like butter. Although I have to say we both thought it was beef cheek or braising steak as the flavour and colour was unlike pork – either way whatever meat it was, was utterly delicious.
- Tandoori salmon with dill & mustard (GF)
Flaked beautifully, nice and soft the spices weren’t overpowering. The dill mustard tasted like wasabi – which I usually love but this wasn’t at all pleasant.
- Plain naan OR black lentils (we somehow got both!)
Naan was thin and light which I prefer to the stodgy thick versions you can often get. The lentils (24hr coooked?!!!) were amazing it was like a saucier version of dahl.
- Sticky toffe pudding with banana ice cream
Dark, sticky, rich and delicious – would have preferred a simple vanilla ice cream as the banana version made it super thick and a bit of a heavy texture.
Price: £24 p/p for the dining deal + £5 pint of tiger beer + service = £32 p/p
Rating: 7 out of 10 – Overall fantastic food and great value for money – the only thing I’d like is a bit more service, especially if you’re going to charge me 12.5% for the pleasure.