Sophie McCulloch, a lawyer, has been missing for 57 days having gone for a run one evening from her home in Glasgow and never returned. Her sister Elvira is worried, her brother Grant is suffering from depression and her mother is rarely sober. With he police convinced that Sophie left home with a married man, who has is also missing, Rob, her mother’s boyfriend has set up a page on social media to capture the last known photos of Sophie, taken at her birthday party shortly before she vanished. Elvira didn’t attend not being a sociable girl. Soon after Sophie disappears her sister defers her university course studying medicine and takes up a post as a nanny to a very wealthy man who she suspects has employed her to keep an eye on his wife Mary.
The Night Hunter is written from Elvira’s point of view, in first person present tense narrative, and follows the trail of not only Sophie but other missing young women whose cases appear to be linked. They were all young women who had gone out for a run, never to return. Elvira is an unusual character and several references are made to her appearance, her face covered in acne and excessive hair and these are in complete contrast to the beautiful missing girls. Elvira then teams up with an ex-cop, Billy Hopkirk, who is working for one of the girl’s mothers as a private detective. Billy is a clever but strange man who was probably the most endearing character of this book and with his connections he manages to open doors to the inner workings of the case.
The plot is good with clues about the girl’s disappearance slowly revealed, often through the police officer Costello who is in charge of the case. Although billed as part of the Anderson and Costello series, they aren’t central to the story with the main action taking place with Elvira and Billy as they roam around Glasgow linking seemingly disparate pieces of information together and following leads. The only mild criticism I have is that the views and descriptions of the other characters viewed by Elvira’s slightly unfriendly eyes makes them feel remote and less rounded than they could do. This is particularly true of Sophie who seems quite an insubstantial character despite her sister’s obvious bond with her, highlighted by the poem The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti which they adopted as their own imagining themselves to be Lizzie and Laura. There is also a lot of misery running through this tale with few moments of relief especially as poor Elvira and her family seem to live a life of unrelenting misfortune.
The plot is good and truly chilling especially as the author ramps up the tension and the pace towards a gripping ending to this mystery.
I’d like to thank the publishers Severn House for my copy of this book in return for my hones opinion.