Missing, Presumed

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This literary crime novel has been highly praised in the UK since it was published last year. Of interest to queer readers are a lesbian and also a gay angle to the plot which are both crucial, although to elaborate would spoil the pleasures of the novel’s numerous twists.

A beautiful, socially aware Cambridge post-grad, Edith Hind, disappears from her home after a drunken Saturday night out with a friend, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door. Each of her friends and extremely well connected family has a version of the truth, but none quite adds up. And as her father is a peer, surgeon to the Royal Family and also close friends with the Home Secretary - the media attention, and pressure on the detectives investigating the disappearance is immense.

DS Manon Bradshaw is our main sleuth and firmly in the tradition of the flawed but endearing investigator. She is 39-years-old, single, childless, estranged or remote with her family, and apart from the occasional, disheartening internet date, her focus and passion is her work. When she does finally connect with a suitable bloke she quickly smothers the prospect with her neediness and over-enthusiasm. Her loneliness has never been more palpable. The narrative is told primarily from Manon’s sardonic, witty perspective but we also hear from her much younger work partner Davy, Edith’s best friend Helena, and her mother Lady Miriam Hind. These different perspectives are crucial for feeding the reader casual details that suddenly assume great significance for the novel’s climax. When the denouement comes it is a ripper - expectations are confounded and the reader’s views of a couple of characters are upended.

For fans of crime fiction this is an absolute must-read and what’s even better is that the sequel (Persons Unknown) has just been published and is also being critically acclaimed. 

Paperback, 414 Pages, Published 2016

Author: Susie Steiner

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