I enjoyed this slow-burner crime novel which follows the investigation into the disappearance of Edith Hind who vanished after a night out with her best friend Helena. Edith is beautiful, a Cambridge graduate with a good-looking and charming boyfriend. The investigation doesn’t have much to go on, there is no trace of Edith whose front door was open. Inside investigators find a trail of blood, two wine glasses, one broken and all her coats on the floor.
DS Manon Bradshaw is part of the investigation team, a single woman aged 39 who can be on the abrasive side with her colleagues, but will she be able to solve the mystery? With so many different leads but no real indication that a crime has been committed the police are also hampered by previous criticism by the media, they are also wary of them based on previous crimes committed in a Cambridgeshire. With the book referencing how the media hampered the investigation into the (real life) Soham murders along with more recent cases at times it was hard to remember that this is ‘just a story!’ The relations between the investigative team are on the whole both realistic and healthier than they often appear in fiction.
I’m a fan of crime novels that handle multiple viewpoints well – this novel has many from Lady Hind, Edith’s mother, to Davy from the police, her friend Helena and an assortment of other characters this novel really feels like you get to know the characters and understand the emotions of all involved. And what a bunch of characters they are, ranging from criminals to the head of the Home Office, university graduates to men who do ‘business’ this book manages to avoid easy stereotypes better than many. This is crime fiction that initially presents as an in-depth police procedural but it has an edge on so many of those with all the characters, not just the police and the victim becoming fleshed out, life-like people with thoughts and feelings. The biggest difference is that the characters have thoughts about more than just Edith which surely reflects real-life than those novels where everyone is immersed in one case for weeks on end?
I found the writing style a little stilted at first but that issue quickly resolved itself as I became more involved as the suspects mounted up and were systematically investigated by the police while I was busy trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together – needless to say I failed miserably but in many ways the mystery didn’t feel like the whole point of the book.
If you like your crime fiction to take you to the heart of an investigation, you need to look out for this one which will be published on 25 February 2016. My copy came from Lovereading.co.uk in return for my honest opinion. My conclusion is that I will be looking out for more novels by Susie Steiner and I’m hoping that DS Manon Bradshaw will appear again.