Review: MISSING, PRESUMED, Susie Steiner
“The plot beautifully and painfully slowly unfolds”
Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.
Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.
Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?
Police procedural novels, while interesting, can sometimes read more like a manual than a novel. Not this book though. The lead, DS Manon Bradshaw, despite the odd name, is someone we can all relate to. She’s slightly disorganized, leaves her clothes in piles on the bedroom floor, where they gather dust, and is still internet dating at the age of 39. She’s slightly eccentric; one of her favourite theories for finding the ideal man is that he will smell right. Yep, she’s an odd-bod, but I liked her all the more for it.
When student Edith Hind goes missing from her flat, leaving signs of a struggle and a smear of blood, the hunt is on for a killer. The story is told from multiple characters’ perspectives, which gives the reader the chance to really get under everyone’s skin. It’s also a bit different from most police procedurals, which tend to be told only from the detective’s point of view.
Everyone has secrets to hide as the police search for Edith’s body. Nothing and no one is as they seem, as the plot beautifully and painfully slowly unfolds. This is a book led by characters rather than chases, and as such requires a bit of patience. Although Missing, Presumed didn’t leave me gasping for more, I did enjoy it, and it is a treat for people who love intelligent crime with great emotional insight.
What’s more, I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing more of DS Manon Bradshaw in the future – she is definitely a character worth following.