The Nowhere Child

Christian White

The Nowhere Child
Affirm Press
26 February 2019

The Nowhere Child

Christian White

‘Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone.’

On a break between teaching photography classes in Melbourne, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes Kim is that girl.

At first she brushes it off, but when Kim scratches the surface of her family history in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past.

As the mystery of Sammy’s disappearance unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards an electrifying climax.

Inspired by Gillian Flynn’s frenetic suspense and Stephen King’s masterful world-building, THE NOWHERE CHILD is a combustible tale of trauma, cult, conspiracy and memory. It is the remarkable debut of Christian White, an exhilarating new Australian talent.


One rainy Melbourne evening, photography teacher Kim Leamy is approached in the cafeteria by a man who has news that will knock Kim right out of her orbit: he believes that she is not Kim Leamy, but in fact Sammy Went, who disappeared twenty-eight years earlier from her home in Manson, Kentucky. Two-year-old Sammy’s disappearance caused a rift within not only her own family, but through the town itself, one populated by a religious community that believe that snake-handling is a way to God. As Kim attempts to discover whether the mother and stepfather she adores have been hiding a secret for nearly three decades, the past is relived and the path to Sammy Went’s real story is slowly revealed.

Imagine being presented with the idea that your family is not what you have always believed – it’s inconceivable. Kim’s reaction to this situation follows a believable trajectory of disbelief, gentle investigation, and absolute fear for herself and her family. Her mother is no longer alive to tell Kim the truth – whatever it is – and her half-sister Amy is furious at Kim for even entertaining the idea. When Kim flees to America to dig for the truth, she is confronted with a history that not everyone wants to revisit – one that plays out in alternating chapters that see a small, claustrophobic town full of suspicion and distrust between those that believe in the power of the Church of the Light Within, and those who do not.

The Nowhere Child – winner of the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript – is a taut, rattling thriller that will have you shrieking the next time you see an abandoned piece of rope in the middle of the road.

Fiona Hardy is our monthly crime fiction columnist, and also blogs about children’s books at

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