Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Review: 'Missing, Presumed' by Susie Steiner

Thirty-nine year old DS Manon Bradshaw of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary has tried Internet dating with unimpressive results--she considers herself a "misanthrope, staring down the barrel of childlessness" who gives off "WoD (a Whiff of Desperation)"; she has been unable to settle down with a romantic partner and worries that she will remain single forever. Manon is a dedicated detective who is good at her job and gets along well with her boss, DI Harriet Harper, and other members of the Major Incident Team. Their latest case involves the mysterious disappearance of Edith Hind, a twenty-four year old woman whose father is a well-connected and prominent surgeon. In Susie Steiner's "Missing, Presumed," the police meticulously follow up every lead, but as the weeks pass, they have little to show for their efforts.

Steiner's wit, clever turns of phrase ("the loneliness rising off her like a mist"), solid descriptive writing, and intriguing character development turn what might have been a run-of-the-mill police procedural into an engrossing and entertaining novel. We grow to care about the self-deprecating and quirky Manon even when she behaves foolishly, because she is so good-hearted, smart, and funny. We are pleased when she finally has a chance at to form a relationship with the man of dreams, but is he the right one for her? Meanwhile, as the search for Edie widens, Manon and company look at a former prison inmate, a professor, and a close female friend of Edie for information that could lead to a breakthrough.

As is common in this genre, predatory reporters in search of a juicy story relentlessly harass the missing person’s family and friends. In addition, people's secrets, lies, and betrayals invariably come back to haunt them. Steiner breaks new ground with a touching subplot about Manon's growing concern for an eleven-year-old boy, Fly Dent, who has no one to care for him. In addition, Manon shows a newfound determination to reorder her priorities. She and her colleague, DC Davy Walker, both come to realize that their private lives are as significant as their professional accomplishments. The plot of "Missing, Presumed" has some clever twists and a bittersweet yet satisfying ending.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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