This one got recommended to me by a lit critic. She asked for folks to submit what we liked to read to her via Twitter and she replied with suggestions. When I said mysteries, she came up with this one, along with Tana French (who I love) and “Robert Galbraith” (who I do not love). I figured she got this based on it being part of the contemporary female-written English thriller/mystery that doubles as a character study but what the heck. It was free on Overdrive so I read it.
It’s an interesting book. It has the soul and bones of a story Tana French would tell but it tries to do it through the lens of multiple POVs, all of which last but a few pages. It made it hard to invest in the story and there were a few times when I considered quitting, only to stop because I wanted to figure out how it would end.
I liked DS Manon Bradshaw as a lead. But she’s barley a lead because while she has the most POV time, she has to share the stage with her uninteresting detective counterpart and the uninteresting people tied to the missing woman. This book was like looking at the pieces of a half-formed puzzle: you know the final thing will be beautiful but with half an effort, you don’t have the beauty. I’m not saying Susie Steiner gave half-an-effort; this feels like it was well-written. But all I see is an incomplete puzzle. Or one put together in the most slapdash way possible. Because while the story compels, the structure does not.
Also, and I’m sorry to spoil but I must for this reason: enough with the tragic homosexual angle (that’s not the cause for the woman’s disappearance, just fyi). It’s so tired, so anti-gay, so reinforcing of stereotypes no matter how well-intentioned. I’m not gay and yet I find it infuriating. Seriously made me want to knock a star off this book. I didn’t but I came close.
Susie Steiner isn’t the next Tana French, nor does she have to be. She has talent. I hope she finds a better way to use it in the future.