A mother is out in the park, watching her young daughters at play. What on earth could prompt her to suddenly walk away, leaving them alone, frightened and vulnerable?
Where has Selena Cole gone to? She has been recently widowed and is grieving. Has she been snatched? Murdered? Committed suicide? All of these questions and more are whirling around DC Leah Mackay’s head as she endeavours to investigate. Leah is a mother too and the plight of the abandoned children touches her deeply. Then a body is found on a quiet country road on the Welsh-English border – is it the missing woman?
Well, this book is called The Missing Hours so I think you can guess the answer to that one. But when Selena reappears, 20 hours later, safe and well, she has no recollection of where she has been. And is that mud on her sweater, or is it blood?
In a neat little plot device, the murder is being investigated by DS Finn Hale, who just happens to be Leah’s younger brother. Finn is so new to the rank that he can still count the days since his promotion. He is desperate to prove himself worthy of the job to his colleagues and his sibling. I particularly enjoyed the interplay between these two characters. Finn may have the better pay grade, but Leah is definitely the winner on street smarts and that well-known item in every seasoned copper’s tool box – gut instinct.
So together they make a great, if argumentative, team. Even with two heads, they struggle to get around the complexities of the murder case and Selena’s disappearance is put on the back burner. However, something is still niggling Leah and she can’t let the case go. Selena ran a successful business dealing with some of the toughest cases ever experienced by the kidnap and ransom industry. Her husband, Ed, died in a bomb blast at an industry event, and his sister and her husband are now doing much of the work. Both appear to have secrets, but can they have any bearing on what occurred?
There are plenty of twists and turns in this book, many of which are unexpected although some are a little telegraphed. The central relationship between Lean and Finn is well thought out and hugely enjoyable. For me though, the book falls down in its sheer volume of asides and extraneous information. Just as things appeared to be progressing nicely, along comes a kidnap case study to being a halt to the narrative flow. The first few are interesting enough, but after you may well be skim reading yet another article or case report that shatters the smooth running of an otherwise engaging read.
Emma Kavanagh spent seven years working as a police and military psychologist and her previous books have been extremely well-received. She has put her expertise to good use here, offering a credible vision of post traumatic stress disorder and sharing wholly realistic visions of life at the front line, whether it be in battle or as a kidnap negotiator. My gripe is that some of the detail is offered in a dull, written-by-rote report format. It might be true to life but makes for a lack-lustre reading experience.
So, a book of two halves; one compelling, the other frustrating. I’d be happy to meet the police officer siblings Leah and Finn again, but hopefully in a more reader-friendly format.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars