Written by Carol Wyer — The crime writing whirlwind that is Carol Wyer has produced her third book of the year, and fans of DI Robyn Carter are in for a treat. However, the story starts with Carter’s arch rival DI Tom Shearer in the spotlight.
He and his team are keeping watch on a self-storage warehouse following a tip-off that a drugs delivery is about to take place. It’s been a long night and nothing has happened, so Shearer gives the word to break into the three storage rooms implicated by their snitch. The first two yield assorted household goods, while the third contains nothing but an odd looking wooden chest. Result! Not quite. When the locked chest is forced open it doesn’t contain a Class A bounty but the body of a young woman…
Which is where Robyn Carter comes in, and with a new DCI to impress, the pressure is on to catch the killer – fast. Luckily for us, this is not to be, because where this author really shines is in the drip-fed, snail’s pace of a realistic police investigation. It builds block by block – or, in Carter’s case, Post-it by Post-it – and there’s many a cul-de-sac to be explored before our girl catches the perpetrator.
The victim is quickly identified as Carrie Miller, a teenager who left home following a row with her father and stepmother and as you read you’ll discover that a second girl is already in the clutches of the faceless killer. Carter’s storyline is interspersed with that of Amber Dalton, who is being held in a windowless room with nothing but a single bed and a bucket for a toilet. She has a strange injury to her forehead and knows she is about to die, and it is the discovery of her body on Cannock Chase that turns the tension up a notch. Carter’s new boss wants results, but the team has very little to go on except for a description of a smartly dressed, well-spoke woman who deposited the chest in self storage.
Carter’s intuition tells her another missing person’s case is connected, but will her boss listen? Meantime, she tried valiantly to have some kind of a life outside of the job and that involves Amelie, daughter of Davies, the love of her life who was killed just before they were about to marry. Carter enjoys spending time with the young teenager and her pal Florence but although Amelie is young for her age, 13-year-old Florence is blossoming and seems to be hiding something… What that ‘something’ is, is about to bring Carter’s latest case painfully close to home.
There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in this book, but rather than confusing you, the multiple threads serve to draw you in like a spider on a web, with the topical subject of cyberbullying particularly well handled. In The Missing Girls, Wyer has really hit her crime writing stride and there’s a major reveal at the end of this book that sets up novel number four very nicely. Her characters are all well-rounded and utterly believable and I’m even growing to love Tom Shearer. It was also good to see the reappearance of Carter’s cousin and best buddy Ross Cunningham, whose private investigation into a missing dog proves to be a great help in the case. The author’s extensive local knowledge of the Staffordshire area shines through too.
If character-led police procedurals are your crime fiction of choice, then this is a book that will feed that addiction well.
We reviewed book two in the series, Secrets of the Dead, here.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars