Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Persons Unknown – Susie Steiner

Crime Fiction

With this, the follow-up to Missing Presumed, being marketed as a literary crime novel, I have to confess I’m not entirely sure what that is, but if it is a multi-layered story that touches on real-life issues as well as having a crime at its centre, with an involved and intricate plot, then this fits the brief.

DI Manon Bradshaw has moved from London back to Cambridge, in part for Fly, her adopted twelve-year-old son in an attempt to keep him away from being stopped and searched purely based on his colour. They live with Manon’s sister Ellie and her two-year old son Solly, oh and Manon is five-months pregnant and assigned to the cold cases. It’s fair to say the whole family are struggling to find their feet when a man named Jon-Oliver is murdered in a nearby park. This sets off a whole chain of events which couldn’t have been predicted.

While this doesn’t have the feel of a standard police procedural, at times feeling as much a commentary on the time we live in, I was hooked right from the start. The storyline is linear with the main part running over a few weeks starting in December with each section featuring the date and chapter headed up by the name of the narrator and where necessary the place because whilst for the most part the action is in Cambridge, some takes us back to Kilburn, London. Normally where we have multiple places and narrators I put a warning into my review about how this isn’t one to read when you are tired but I have to confess I started this one night expecting to read a dozen or so pages and struggled to put it down, even the fact that I was exhausted that particular night didn’t strain my brain. Instead my warning is the short chapters are deceptive and it is only too easy to say I’ll just do one more and then I’ll  turn out the light only to find yourself bleary eyed and still going!

Why did I enjoy this so much? Well the plot is tight, and yes it’s complex especially as the connections between the characters are not what you normally get in a police procedural. I loved the characters, I felt that Manon was a more sympathetic character in this book, not quite as abrasive as she is actually outside the investigation and her love for Fly, her adopted son really brings out a different side to her personality. In fact I had a lot of sympathy for a number of the characters whilst others I’m pleased to say got their just deserts. Persons Unknown was involved and had plenty of clues, including the obligatory red-herrings that had me suspecting everyone at one time or another. Having won me over with some of the key characters I was thoroughly engaged, needing to know whether x had visited y at z time to prove my theory or otherwise, which is always the mark of a good book.

When the characters are so well-defined it can be the case that the plotting is looser, but not in this book with both aspects having an equal weighting although perhaps there was a coincidence or two which felt a little too convenient they in no way spoilt my enjoyment.

There is no doubt in my mind that Susie Steiner’s next book will be on my ‘must read’ list she has really proved herself to be a writer of many talents indeed. If character led crime fiction is what floats your boat, this series is on my highly recommended list.

I received my copy of Persons Unknown through Amazon Vine.

First Published UK: 29 June 2017
Publisher: The Borough Press
No. of Pages: 368
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US 




A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

26 thoughts on “Persons Unknown – Susie Steiner

  1. Like you, I became addicted to this author and her books. I read the first one and then instantly had to download the ARC of the second one. She really sucks you in with Manon and her family, but it’s not at the expense of the investigation, and, as you say, there is quite a bit of social commentary as well. It’s relatable and fun and sad and a good old mystery, so what more could you want!


  2. This does sound like the sort of story that really draws you in, Cleo. And, in a series like this one, it really is characters that matter. It sounds as though Steiner’s are really well-developed. Glad you enjoyed this so well.


  3. Great review, and I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I love the Manon Bradshaw character and I agree that she was more appealing in this book. I was not a fan of her sister, though. Who needs family like that?

    I am also looking forward to whatever the author brings out next for Manon.


  4. Steiner went straight onto my list of must reads as soon as I’d finished Missing Presumed. I agree that it straddles the line between a police procedural and a novel of social conscience. Normally I would find that quite difficult but this a compulsive read.


  5. This is definitely going on my TBR – I enjoyed Missing, Presumed and wasn’t sure how the follow up would be, but it sounds as though it might be even better…


  6. Oh dear, this does sound good! Yeah, I’m not sure what literary crime is really either, though I think what you said about the ‘commentary on our times’ might be part of it. Will my willpower hold out??


  7. I enjoyed your review a lot. I’ve read a couple of books that were like this for me. I couldn’t quite pin down what it was that hooked me but I knew I’d read more by the authors.


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