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The Fate of Katherine Carr

3.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  602 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
George Gates used to be a travel writer who specialized in places where people disappeared—Judge Crater, the Lost Colony.Then his eight-year-old son was murdered, the killer never found, and Gates gave up disappearance. Now he writes stories of redemptive triviality about flower festivals and local celebrities for the town paper, and spends his evenings haunted by the imag ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published June 23rd 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jul 31, 2013 Bandit rated it really liked it
This is only my second read by Cook, so I wasn't sure quite what to expect. The library has his books all under fiction, not mystery, and I think that's accurate, because his stories are much more literary and deeper than an average mystery. This book reminded me of John Connolly's work, with its dark lyricism and slightly supernatural undertones. There is a mystery here as well, but the heart of the story is a meditation on loss and justice for the victims (or vengeance for the perpetrators, de ...more
Jun 23, 2012 Judi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Betsy Van Horn
Recommended to Judi by: Guy Savage
Upon finishing this book, I upped the star rating from 4 to 5 stars... I am so pleased with how this book ends and the way that this author can write such a bleak, dark novel and still provide a ray of fantastical hope in the end.

THE FATE OF KATHERINE CARR is very complicated, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. George Gates, a former travel writer and current freelance writer, lost his son seven years earlier. His son was waiting for him at the bus stop when he disappeared. George ca
Nov 06, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of George Gates whose son was murdered. The case was not solved and the murderer never caught. George used to be a travel writer and fascinated by the "disappeared". But now he is a feature writer for his local paper until he meets a retired cop. He decides to write a feature on the cop and the one case he couldn't solve, the disappearance of Katherine Carr. He also meets Alice who has progeria, the premature aging disease but who loves the stories of true crime.

George becomes
Aug 28, 2009 Tony rated it it was amazing
Cook, Thomas H. THE FATE OF KATHERINE CARR. (2009). ****. Cook has written over twenty novels, many of them mysteries. This one is a mystery clouded in the world of the supernatural – which also seems to interest Cook a lot. George Gates’ son has been murdered by a killer who has never been identified or captured. He meets a retired detective at a local bar. They begin to talk and Gates learns that this man, Arlo, was once in the Missing Persons Division. Gates asks him if there was one case tha ...more
John Brooke
Apr 07, 2013 John Brooke rated it really liked it

This is a fascinating book, albeit gloomy from start to finish. It is a mystery novel, perhaps even a “thriller”, but one with a paranormal undertone - which, for me, makes it something else. Others too, I’d suspect – i.e., probably some “purist” mystery fans might not accept this as a mystery novel, per se.

So let’s call it a sad meditation on the constant pain of having a missing person in your life.

The story takes place in small town in upstate New York.

The story is “told” on the deck of a r
Jul 29, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing
This book is designed to keep the reader guessing. The ending, to me, was perfect though I suspect some readers might feel frustrated. Other readers might not get it at all. Here is a dark novel, blending together several tales of the missing, the avenged, and their avengers. I'll be reading more of this author.
Renita D'Silva
Sep 28, 2014 Renita D'Silva rated it liked it
Very dark, intriguing, desperately sad and yet, ultimately hopeful.
Mar 22, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it
I have always been a fan of Thomas Cook. This book did not disappoint me. One thing he does well, is character development. Though this book has many complexities, his characters are the most amazing. George Gates is a travel writer struggling with the guilt of the disappearance and murder of his 8 year old son. If only he hadn't.... but throughout the story though we know the guilt we also know that he is struggling to get on with his life. He interviews a former detective for a fluff piece he ...more
Nov 28, 2009 Kat rated it liked it
This book really disappointed me and I am quite mad at the author. I had to read thru pages upon pages of heart-wrenching grief and guilt (well-written, I grant you that) of a father whose young son got kidnapped and murdered. I had to read in great detail about a young girl dying from a cruel disease, not to mention innumerable description of terrible atrocities. For what? I don't want to spoil it for those who want to read it, but there are absolutely no resolutions in this book unless you buy ...more
Gary Warren
Jul 09, 2009 Gary Warren rated it really liked it
Thomas H. Cook is an American treasure. This novel is not an easy read as it has a Gothic like atmosphere, a convuluted plot, many characters who are essential to the story, and does not give you all the answers. For my reading tastes, I love that kind of an effort.

The basic plot revolves around a guilt ridden travel writer who now hides out in a small town writing features for the local newspaper. The reason is that one day he was supposed to pick up his son and instead chose to try to finish
Mar 24, 2010 Roberta rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this one. Once I got into the first 30 pages, I could not put it down. Gates (do we ever learn his first name?), a onetime travel writer and feature writer for a small town newspaper recounts the story of Catherine Carr while on a boat trip in Asia. I don't want to give anything away so I'll just say that the plot is intricate and unusual and the story of Catherine Carr, a victim of a violent crime and who subsequently disappeared without a trace, Alice 12 years old and dying of ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Sherry rated it it was amazing
I just whipped through this book, it was so wonderful. I was just swept up in it. I want books to capture me & take me away and this story did just that. But a word of warning; this is a sad story. There are vicious terrible things that happen in it. Mr. Cook does not pull any punches at all. Very dark and grim and at times it breaks your heart. I loved it though. Very much. One of the best writers out there. He should win every award, and everyone should read his books. He just has a way of ...more
Jul 30, 2012 Adithyajones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intelligent,engaging and thought provoking mystery by Cook in his flowery,atmospheric,poetic writing. On one side it is a mystery on the lines of a cozy mystery with the investigators in the form of a reporter and a child assuming the role of Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe in the famous Rex Stout mysteries, but at the same time it is exploring the dark and evil minds which wreak havoc on the innocent and helpless and the forces may be divine which is in constant fight to eradicate these evil f ...more
May 15, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing
I’ve never read a Thomas Cook novel before, though he had written over twenty books prior to writing this one. It’s a complex plot: George Gates, a travel writer, lost his wife in childbirth, and his eight-year-old son to a murderer. He exists now, more than lives, in the same town where he had once been happy, working as a newspaper reporter, writing the trivial stories of festivals, prize-winning tomatoes, and local artists. He meets a retired policeman, Arlo, who was a missing-persons detecti ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Freesiab rated it it was ok
Normally I love his books and I saw the reviews and was really excited. It's a departure from his normal style. I still love his character development. I'm wary of stories within a story and this book is why. I liked the real work mystery and hated the story. It reminded me of a David Lynch movie, whom I really like but then it wound up being a story in a story in a story. I'm pretty sure I got the point but it didn't need it. I'll continue to read his books but I was thrilled this was so short.
Aug 18, 2014 Christie rated it really liked it
The Fate of Katherine Carr is the story of things lost and found. George Gates is a former travel writer who now writes features for the local paper and spends his evenings drinking scotch at his neighbourhood bar. He’s a broken man, but no wonder: his eight year old son, Teddy, had been taken off the street on his way home from school, murdered and the murderer had never been caught. That was seven years ago, but George hasn’t recovered. He was supposed to pick Teddy up at the bus stop and hadn ...more
Louise Mullins
I bought this book from Poundland, for, yes, you've guessed it 1. Firstly, I must say that I'd never heard of Thomas H. Cook and thought I'd give it a try. The cover and blurb looked intriguing. But from the first page, I could not put the book down.

This book defies genre. It's part mystery, part suspense, part psychological thriller, part crime novel, part literary fiction. Cook writes with poetic elegance, offering long descriptive prose like a literary novelist. He interweaves this with a slo
Mar 30, 2015 Holly rated it it was amazing
Have I mentioned before how Thomas H. Cook is my favourite author of all time?? Every book I've ever read by him leaves me in awe....and yes, his twists at the end surprise me every time. I'm one of those readers who try to figure out the 'ending' of each book before I get there - - I've yet to accomplish that with Cook's writing and this book was no different. This storyline was actually very different from Cook's previous writings - - this book starts out somewhat confusing as it is a story w ...more
Rick McNeely
Mar 08, 2010 Rick McNeely rated it did not like it
Lurid, muddled, story-within-a-story-within-a-story ad nauseum about a murder, an unexplained disappearance and the World's Greatest Pity Party. Enough child-kidnap-torture-murder schlock to annoy even the SVU crowd. Gag.
Sep 13, 2014 Cathy rated it liked it
I'm still reading this, but I wanted to say that I am annoyed with the book and only on the 8th chapter. The book's narrator talks at great length on preciseness of writing and attention to details, yet chronology in the book is already skewed. While reading the papers, looking up information of Miss Carr, we have her at 12 in 1973, then a year later, then at 17. This would be 1978, although is not mentioned. Then he says 6 years later, ok, fine, that would be 1984, but is again, not mentioned. ...more
Anne Hawn Smith
Mar 08, 2011 Anne Hawn Smith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who don't mind books that aren't resolved at the end.
I wouldn't call this a mystery book. It is a story within a story. The first is the story of George Gates, whose 8 year old son was kidnapped and murdered. His young wife also died and now he is alone. He was a travel journalist who specialized in places where people disappeared, but after the tragedy, he became a reporter for a small newspaper. A retired detective got him involved in the disappearance of a poet, Katherine Carr who had previously been assalted and left for dead.

So many people ha
Jun 28, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was such a bizarre novel. It was hard to follow the substory, the one written by by the missing character, Katherine Carr. Only towards the end, where the main character and his friend discuss her story was I able to make sense of what was going on. And the ending was delightfully mysterious.

A major complaint about this novel was that the main character, George, reflects way too much on things outside of current happenings. This usually isn't a problem but the way the author would introduce
Kathleen Hagen
The Fate of Katherine Carr, by Thomas H. Cook, b-plus, narrated by Brian Hutchinson, produced by Recorded Books, downloaded from

George Gates was a globe-trotting travel writer until his young son was kidnapped and murdered. His body was found so much later that it was impossible to pin down exactly what happened to him. He leaves his travel writing position and takes a quiet newspaper position writing boring articles. Then he meets a police officer who is retiring in their neighborh
Sam Hager
May 31, 2016 Sam Hager rated it liked it
A very mysterious novel with a complex plot. This is a novel that will leave the reader wondering and thinking "what did I just read".

A writer develops an obsession for a missing woman who vanished twenty years earlier without a trace. All the while coping with the loss of his own murdered son.

With the aid of a young terminally ill girl who loves mysteries and a detective, the writer explores the very mind of the missing lady and learns about himself in the process. Recommend.
Shonna Froebel
Dec 23, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it liked it
This is a very different sort of mystery book and I'm finding it hard to classify. The main character, George Gates was one a travel writer focused on places where people disappeared. After he settled where he lives now, his eight-year-old son Teddy was snatched and it was a long time before his remains were found. George retreated inwards and now writes light, human-interest stories for his local paper. When he meets Arlo McBride, a retired missing persons detective, he becomes fascinated with ...more
Apr 19, 2015 Cristi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I really wanted to like this book more than I did in the end. A strong first half left me fascinated, mystified, curious. But I guess, like the characters in the book, I longed for a resolution-I wanted to know exactly what happened to Katherine Carr. I got a little frustrated with the mystical, supernatural elements by the second half-and maybe that was the author's intention? A lingering sense of disappointment, never knowing, never certain, never losing hope...
Nov 26, 2014 Solim rated it really liked it
Not the greatest from Mr. Cook but a solid book. Cook always has the best twists and I have yet to find an author as clever as him with the twists. His prose is perfect and makes you want to read more every time. The characters were solid and will be memorable as well as the unique story that Cook always weaves. I give this book 4.5/5. Read it if you're a Cook fan because you wont be disappointed.
Mar 10, 2015 Sascha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Veering towards 2.5 stars to be honest. This book was all over the place. I feel like it tried too hard to be mysterious and didn't quite hit the mark. It was intriguing, but about three quarters in I just felt deflated and disappointed. And I was pretty disgusted at all the references to Mr. Mayawati smelling of curry... seriously? It ended abruptly and the mystery, for me, was more obfuscating than anything else. Meh.
I have tried to get to the halfway mark with this book, but I can't. I don't know whose story I should be interested in - George's? Alice's? Katherine's? Everyone has something going on, and I was disconnected from them all. Lost me!
I do hope that the next Thomas H. Cook book in my library doesn't do the same thing to me.
Mar 28, 2010 Dani rated it it was ok
Recommended to Dani by: Tim Owens
Everyone has a certain storyline that is difficult for them to read. For me, it is stories about the death of young children. Once I became a mother, I could no longer accept such a thing as just part of the plot. So here is fair warning: if you have trouble with that sort of story, too, then you may want to turn away from this book.

It took a long time for this book to grab me, but I can't fault the writing. Cook's descriptions of George's anguish over the loss of his son were so vivid that I fe
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Thomas H. Cook has been praised by critics for his attention to psychology and the lyrical nature of his prose. He is the author of more than 30 critically-acclaimed fiction books, including works of true crime. Cook published his first novel, Blood Innocents, in 1980. Cook published steadily through the 1980s, penning such works as the Fra
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“All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee; All Chance, Direction, which thou canst not see; All Discord, Harmony not understood All partial Evil, universal Good. —ALEXANDER POPE, An Essay on Man” 1 likes
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