Well Emma Kavanagh has done it again, by which I mean give me an entertaining and well-written novel and at the same time educate me about an area I am totally unfamiliar with; kidnap and ransom demands.
The Missing Hours is a mystery, it has elements of a police procedural where DS Finn Hale and his sister DC Leah Mackay are on police force firstly investigating the disappearance of Dr Selina Cole and then later, when a body is discovered, the brutal murder of solicitor Dominic Newell. Leah is drawn towards Selina’s story; why would a woman walk away from a playground where her two children are playing, and disappear? Finn feels her connection with this case when he, her superior, feels that the largest portion of resources should be pooled on the murder committed in Cardiff, may be related to her personal feelings, she is identifying just a little bit too much perhaps? But this isn’t a straightforward police procedural with elements of the psychology behind crime also being explored during this novel.
It took me a while to get into the swing of this book, as in her previous books, Emma Kavanagh has used multiple points of view, ranging from Heather, Selina’s daughter to the police, and different time periods to unveil the different strands of the story. Those illustrating the work that Selina carried out for the kidnap and ransom negotiations are covered in historical case files. These make for fascinating but from my perspective, a more remote type of interest, and I certainly learnt a lot about this little-reported crime and its resolutions in dangerous spots across the globe.
This book is a master in misdirection, I changed my mind numerous times about who was responsible for different elements but try as I might I couldn’t get any scenario to fit all the facts I was in possession of but of course Emma Kavanagh didn’t let me down and when all is finally revealed, I was reminder just how superb this author is at plotting a complex novel.
Maybe because many of the characters lived lives I find it hard to imagine, of live a lifestyle that depend upon them playing their cards very close to their chests either in the forces or carrying out difficult commissions to find kidnap victims, I didn’t find I connected terribly well with any of them except the two police officers. That isn’t to say these other characters aren’t well-drawn, I think it is probably that they were too realistic thereby while their actions were understandable, I just didn’t feel like I belonged in their world.
Perhaps because of the remoteness of some of the characters and getting to grips with the world of a company whose purpose is negotiating the release of those kidnapped it did take me far longer to get into this book than the author’s previous two novels – this isn’t a book to read for non-stop action as it does take a while for the pace to pick up. Once it did though, I was gripped and longing to know exactly who to believe made the dénouement totally worth the wait! A word of warning here though, this book ends very abruptly so much so that I actually thought I’d clicked over the last page, so readers who don’t like ambiguous endings may be disappointed with having to imagine what comes next! For those lovers of crime fiction who want something a little different from the twisted serial killer, this is a strong contender.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy of The Missing Hours ahead of publication on 21 April 2016. This honest review is my thank you to them.
Previous books by Emma Kavanagh