Wow. So “Missing Joseph” packs a punch. George really looks at a variety of relationships and in the end you kind of want to go why do women even deal with men? Except in the case of St. James and his wife Deborah where she continues to be the worst. There’s also a look at the mother and child relationship and how those differ with regards to fathers. There is the usual mess with Deborah and honestly that’s the main reason why I dropped this book a star. It’s getting old. I hope George moves on from this story-line in the next book.
When St. James and Deborah go to visit Lancastershire they find out that a vicar that Deborah met and was behind the visit is dead. He accidentally digested hemlock and the local constable (Colin Shephard) found the woman (Mrs. Juliet Spence) who accidentally provided him the hemlock was cleared. The locals feel differently though since Shepard and Mrs. Spence are lovers. When St. James starts going over how hemlock is first diagnosed he has questions about how a known herbalist could have accidentally picked it and given it to someone to eat. He calls up Inspector Lynley who is happy to be away from Helen at the moment and the two men investigate.
I thought George actually did a better job with the secondary characters in this one than with the main ones. Juliet is a woman with a past and she was reluctant to become involved with Shephard but did. She’s torn between her love of her daughter and wanting to keep her from doing something she will regret to wanting to still be with Shephard even though she knows it can’t last.
Maggie Spence is 13 and I wanted to hug her. She’s tied up in missing a father she never knew and telling herself she is in love with a 15 year old boy who is just as clueless as she is. Maggie is determined to get the family that she wants to make her feel loved.
Shepherd was garbage. George developed him very well though but there’s a scene that made me rage. His blindness of things and his treatment of women is definitely a theme that keeps playing out in George’s books.
Polly, a childhood friend of Shephard who practices Wicca who wanted Shephard to love her is the most changed by the end of this book. With her realizing eventually that just because you love someone does not mean that they deserve that love was heartbreaking.
Brendan who fancies himself in love with Poppy and is regretting the marriage he got forced into with the local rich man’s daughter.
Lynley and Helen have become exhausting. Get married or don’t, I just don’t want to read about it anymore. George shows though that Lynley wants to dominate Helen though and marriage to him would mean that she would be there for him always. I just shook my head. St. James is the only male character that understands what marriage and love is. He keeps dealing with Deborah and her insistence on trying to get pregnant though the doctor has flat out told her she needs to give herself a year at least to wait to try again or she may end up dying. Her acting as if St. James is the selfish one gave me a headache.
Havers was barely in this one. I was ticked about that. We get to see her moving on from her family home and becoming more settled in the next stage of her life which was good.
The writing was graphic at times. Warning there is a rape scene in the book that had me checking my alarm was on before I fell asleep. The flow was a bit slow at first with just St. James and Deborah and I felt myself getting bored which hasn’t happened before. Things picked up anytime we left those two behind.
The setting of Lancastershire was interesting. It seemed to be a fairly liberal place with people not really focusing on religion. That said, there was a lot of ugliness going on that George manages to tap into when you follow the primary and secondary characters.
The ending was a shocker. I honestly didn’t know who the perpetrator(s) was and why they did it. When we get to the reveals I was like oh my goodness! I think ending it on the villagers after Lynley and others had left was a good idea. We can get a semblance of an idea of what will happen next.