Barely a week goes by without a new crime novel being tipped for bestsellerdom. Now, following in the footsteps of The Girl on the Train, The Widow and I Let You Go comes another one – and trust me, Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner is a surefire winner.
There’s no doubt that Steiner’s second novel is pacy, compelling and very well written but what makes it stand out from the crowd is the intriguing detective sergeant at the heart of the story.
DS Manon Bradshaw is a larger than life character – complex, messed up and lonely. At 39, she’s desperate to have children but only seems to meet disastrous men, mostly through internet dating. She’s an insomniac (the only way she can get to sleep is by listening to the illicit police radio she smuggles home), chaotic and intuitive – but an excellent detective.
Missing, Presumed sees Manon investigating the disappearance of a stunning Cambridge postgraduate. Edith Hind, the mercurial daughter of an eminent surgeon (who counts the home secretary amongst his closest friends), has vanished from the home she shares in Huntingdon with her boyfriend, leaving the front door open and spatters of blood on the floor. To add to the mystery, Edith’s love life turns out to be more tangled than most.
Susie Steiner spent 11 years as a staff writer and editor for the Guardian and her writing experience and research skills shine through this book. In her acknowledgements she thanks the two Cambridgeshire detectives who advised her about police procedure, plus a pathologist, histopathologist (I’m not entirely sure what that is) and the Guardian writer Sandra Laville.
Her background research helps to ensure that Missing, Presumed is authentic and convincing and while the denouement doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the book I hope that we’ll be reading more Manon Bradshaw stories soon.
Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner (The Borough Press, £12.99)
PS. Thank you to Mumsnet Bloggers for asking me to review Missing, Presumed