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All booksThrillerMissing, Presumed
Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
Thriller

Missing, Presumed

by Susie Steiner

Quick take

Every cast member is full of surprises. All of them have secrets...My suspicions kept shifting as I read.

Why I love it

Maud Newton
Writer

A beautiful young Cambridge grad named Edith Hind, vanishes from her house on a snowy winter night, leaving behind her cell phone, her keys, her coat, a broken wine glass, and some drops of blood. Surely the culprit must be her handsome boyfriend? Or, her needy best friend? Or, the affable cold-blooded killer just out of prison? Or?

One tantalizing thing about Missing, Presumed is that the mystery feels as though it should be easy to solve. It's a hard whodunnit to puzzle out. The author embeds clues in intricate psychological portraits of each of her characters. Every cast member is full of surprises. All of them have secrets and most are characters prone to telling half-truths. My suspicions kept shifting as I read.

Our hero—the reader's best hope for a satisfying resolution to the case—is Manon, a smart, lonely, bitingly funny detective with Scotland Yard. Manon navigates the stress, bureaucracy, and cafeteria meals of her job to solve some of the agency's most vexing mysteries, and spends her free time going on terrible internet dates.

Although Edith is offstage as the plot develops, Manon's dogged and deft investigation allows us to develop a portrait of the missing woman: clever, earnest, and spoiled, a little dramatic and a little self-dramatizing, capable of immense selfishness and endearing kindness, of callousness and tremendous feeling. The characters' competing perspectives on Edith and her motives keep the story speeding forward. The many false leads along the way add to the excitement.

Ultimately, the beauty of this book is less about plot than about its insights into unexpected connections between people. Whatever resolutions the characters may find by the end of the book are not the kind they've been seeking—or the kind we're expecting.

Touches like these elevate Missing, Presumed far beyond a boilerplate police procedural into a work of art. Weeks after I finished reading I still find myself thinking—wondering—about the characters. And hoping for a sequel.

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