Book Review: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
I really enjoyed Missing, Presumed. I suppose you’d call it a crime thriller, or a police procedural, but like my other favourites in this genre, it was the characters and their lives that drew me into the story rather the actual crime and/or wondering whodunnit.
The book is told from the point of view of several characters, but the leading lady is the police officer, DS Manon Bradshaw, assigned to a missing person’s case of the title.
Like a lot of these types of stories, Manon’s personal life is a bit of a mess. She’s 39 and single, but is quite keen to alter that last part. Desperately aware her chances of ever having children are getting slimmer each passing year, she is pursuing internet dating, but has ended up kissing more toads than princes. Stereotypically, she also drinks and smokes too much, and is estranged from her family.
DC Davy Walker is the other police character who is fleshed out nicely. He’s younger than Manon, and much more empathetic and sensible when it comes to his private life and police work. However, contrarily, I began to like Davy much more when he started to get a little more assertive and nasty.
The ‘presumed’ missing victim is a daughter of a wealthy and connected family and for a different spin, the book also has sections from her mother’s, Miriam, point of view. Initially I had reservations about Miriam, but I did appreciate her parts towards the book’s end.
There were a couple of other point of views thrown in that did annoy me, however. In particular, the victim herself and her best friend. They were unnecessary and made the idea a little corny, I thought. I would have suggested the writer stick to Manon, Davy and Miriam.
The general mystery of the book is not the most engrossing I’ve ever read. There’s no particular shock ending, or even surprise of who and why. I thought the identity of the wrongdoer was telegraphed quite early on actually. There were a couple of details I hadn’t solved and Steiner did throw in some red herrings, but not enough to alter my conviction of the guilty party. As I stated earlier, this is a book more about the characters than anything else though, so I wasn’t very worried or disappointed by any of these points.
I must stress I still enjoyed the procedural parts of the book. I get quite fascinated with the abundance of CCTV sometimes!
Steiner’s mystery plot might have been a little weak, but her writing wasn’t. Her beautiful turn of phrase was not the usual short choppy style of crime thrillers, but more the descriptive and lyrical prose of literature, and I enjoyed it immensely.
There is a bit of romance in the book. I was torn on the main one. At one stage it was quite gorgeous and I was cheering all the way. Then, for no particular reason, Steiner pulls the rug out from under it. I still hadn’t quite worked out why (other than to give a mother/adopted son subplot more pathos), even by the book’s end. So, unfortunately, this made me remove a star.
I would definitely recommend this book, and I’ll be picking up the next in the series when it’s released.
4 out of 5