REVIEW: MISSING, PRESUMED, BY SUSIE STEINER

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On a night in December 2010, DS Manon Bradshaw, of the Cambridgeshire police, is trying once again to find “the one.” Internet dating has been terribly disappointing, especially this latest one. But, at thirty-nine, she longs for a family, with children, so she keeps trying.

Back in her flat, while falling asleep, she listens to the police radio, as was her custom. But first she spends some time whining to best friend Bryony about her miserable dating life. Tonight’s radio is still a comfort…until it isn’t. There is a call to action…a missing person case.

Meanwhile, in her lovely Hampstead home, Miriam Hind is enjoying her Sunday, thinking of how glad she is to have a daughter, Edith, and imagines her caring for her in her old age. Her husband Ian, a surgeon, and a physician who treats the royal family, is out somewhere, enjoying the day.

All of these lives are about to be upended…the missing person case involves Edith Hind, and while the clues are puzzling, the detectives are consumed with following them. What we learn of Edith as we go along is that she is self-absorbed, narcissistic, and careless with others. Others will fall by the wayside during the quest and the publicity, including Edith’s friend Helena Reed.

Missing, Presumed kept me reading, and while there were many red herrings along the way, none of the troublesome mysteries would bring this reader to suspect what had actually happened. There were also some moments between colleagues that were enjoyable. I liked Manon, her partner, Davy, and another of her attempts at a relationship with a man called Alan Prenderghast. Sadly, a disappointment. But then she finds a ten-year-old boy, Fly Kent, whose brother Taylor has been killed…and whose mother is sick. She looks in on him, pays for someone to keep him fed, and waits.

In the end, I liked how the pieces came together, and look forward to reading more about Manon and her life. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: SATURDAY REQUIEM, BY NICCI FRENCH

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Frieda Klein is a London psychotherapist who has, in the past, assisted the police in a consultant role on some of their cases involving psychiatric disorders. In recent years, there have been troubles between Frieda and some higher-ups on the force. Nevertheless, some still consider her intuitive approach to be worth the risk.

In Saturday Requiem, the sixth novel in the series, Frieda has been asked to assess a young woman, Hannah Docherty, who has been held in Chelsworth Hospital for the past thirteen years for killing her family: mother, stepfather, and brother. What Frieda finds is appalling. Not only is Hannah almost mute, but she is covered with bruises and heavily medicated. What is happening to her behind closed doors? And why does Frieda find so many irregularities when she studies the case files? Was the case against Hannah mishandled? If so, why? Who is covering up the truth?

From the first page, I was thoroughly engaged with Frieda’s quest for answers, and not at all surprised that she met many obstacles and dangers along the way. As she connects with possible witnesses and interviews many of the same people the police talked with years ago, she meets resistance from almost everyone. But slowly a picture emerges, and as Frieda finds clarity, I held my breath, wondering how it would all play out.

Twists and turns are an understatement for the path Frieda follows to find a solution. But will she find out the truth soon enough? An alternate narrator, unknown to the reader, is spinning another plot from within the institution, and someone has nefarious plans for Hannah. 5 stars.

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