What’s it all about?:
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?
What did WE think?:
CHRISSI: Discuss the choices that Manon makes – both professional and private.
BETH: When I first started this book I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of Manon but it wasn’t long before I was completely won over. I love how we really get to know her character through a much more thorough exploration of her private life than is usually found in crime novels. She has quite a colourful love life in her search to find “the one,” parts of which were really very funny and made me warm both to the character and the author. Later on in the novel, she also makes a hugely personal decision regarding a child to call her own and this made her much more relatable and “real” as an individual. Generally speaking, she is very professional in her workplace but there are a couple of wobbles…. which again, made her more human in my eyes.
BETH: There are strong female characters in this novel. Discuss whether crime novels feel different with female leads centre stage.
CHRISSI: I do think they feel different with female leads at the centre of the novels. Quite often, there are male leads in crime fiction and I think it feels really refreshing to have a female lead. Especially one as strong as Manon!
CHRISSI: Discuss how Susie Steiner structures the novel to create tension?
BETH: I think the author does this in a great way by using multiple narratives which I love in a novel and in this one, they are particularly effective. We get to hear from Manon, her colleague Davey and the missing girl’s mother Miriam, amongst others. At times, it almost felt like each perspective ended on a little cliffhanger before a different one started. This meant that I was always eager to read “just one more chapter,” so I could get back to the thrilling perspective that I had been reading beforehand, if that makes any sense!
BETH: Who was your favourite character in this novel and why?
CHRISSI: I really liked the character Manon because she’s such a strong female lead. I liked how she was so independent and headstrong but she had a vulnerability about her at the same time. I also loved reading about her dating mishaps. It made her incredibly relatable.
CHRISSI: Did you find the book predictable in any way?
BETH: Maybe at times but it didn’t affect my enjoyment on any level at all. I think I always had an idea in my head about who was responsible (either directly or indirectly) for the disappearance of Edith but the way in which everything unravelled was excellent. Also, I didn’t guess the reasons behind why Edith went missing – that was all very complicated and quite extensive.
BETH: You’re not normally a crime fiction fan – did this book change your mind in any way?
CHRISSI: If I’m totally honest, no. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I did. I just don’t think crime fiction is my thing. It’s certainly not my go to genre.
CHRISSI: How does this book compare to other crime reads that you’ve read?
BETH: Very favourably! As I know you’re aware, I always worry that crime reads are going to be a bit “samey” for me and there was something about Missing, Presumed that made it stand out in the genre. Perhaps it was the humour running through it, which I really appreciated or perhaps it was the characters who I really enjoyed getting to know, especially Manon. Either way, it’s certainly a series that I would be interested in continuing.
BETH: Would you read another book by this author?
CHRISSI: I liked Susie Steiner’s writing style so I’d certainly consider it!
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):
CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):