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Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

September 15, 2016

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?

 

In the list of where to categorise crime books, this one falls into general crime, and partly into police procedural. Missing, Presumed, tells the story of D.I.Manon Bradshaw, a competent and driven detective who, at the age of 39, is seriously questioning her lack of relationships and knows for certaint that her biological clock is ticking. Despite numerous dreadful internet dates, some of whom she shags just because they are there, she is horribly lonely and just wants someone to love and to be loved by.

Then a young woman Edith Hind, goes missing. Edith is a woman born into a well to do family: her father is a prominent physician and her parents, it transpires, know and socialise with the Home Secretary and his wife. So scrutiny on this case is going to be heavy.

When the police start to delve into this case, it seems that a violent crime may have been committed, Edith’s blood is found at their country home where the door has been left open. As the police question Emily’s partner and her friends, they build up a picture of a bright young woman with no real worries whose passion is to save the planet by knitting mung beans one at a time. (OK the book doesn’t say that, but she is clearly a spoiled little rich girl). Edith appears to have glided through her life so far, impervious to the impact that she has on those who love her; thinking only of herself.

In contrast to Edith,whose disappearance sparks a fury of interest from the nationals because of her father’s connection to the Royal family, another body, that of a young black man is found. This body provokes no press interest to speak of and the recurring theme of wealth v poverty is one which elevates this book to a three star read. This theme stirred my anger,whether it was the lack of press interest in the young lad’s body or the numerous stop and searches endured by the young son of a drug abusing, cancer ridden,mother.

The character of D.I. Bradshaw is very well drawn, as are her colleagues, Davy and Harriet and Edith and her mother, Miriam. It is intelligently written and not without some acerbic humour from Manon and her colleague Davy.

Nevertheless, I think that as a crime novel it doesn’t quite work, in that the parallel stories come together in a slightly contrived way – although it has to be admitted that its central perpetrator and the reasons for the crime could hardly be more topical.

Overall, good characterisation and some strong moments with a satisfyingly warm ending.

Missing, Presumed was published by Borough Press in paperback on 1st September 2016

I received a copy from the publisher, but this has not influenced my review.

 

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