I finally gave in to BookBub and Book Gorilla’s insistence that I buy this book for $1.99 and…bought this book for $1.99. I’m very picky about mysteries, in that I don’t read a lot of them and expect them to be as good as any other fiction I’d read.
Sadly, to me, this is a book that would work better if it made it up its mind more as to what it wanted to be: a meditation on motherhood, self-perception, and external perceptions, or a typical detective novel. When I finished, I enjoyed what I had read of the former, but felt nothing but annoyance when I saw that this was to be part of a series following the main detective. Why must everything be a series nowadays? And since the detective was the least interesting part of the whole novel, why would I want to follow more of his adventures?
The novel functions as two character studies: that of a mother whose son has disappeared and ends up vilified by the media for not being a perfect victim, and that of one of the lead detectives on her case. I really liked what the novel pointed out about perfect victimhood and how the media frenzy around most cases usually does more harm than good. This and the simple understanding of trauma are what made the novel shine the most and where it’s emotional core seems to lie. It’s the nuts and bolts of the case that read more like a procedural show and therefore lost interest for me. The central character of the series, Clemo, also doesn’t hold a ton of interest as not much distinguishes him from any other secretly vulnerable detective with a hardened exterior. However, this is still a book I’d recommend, just as a quick page-turner mystery, and not much more.