"But what makes this book so different from the usual police whodunit is the sly humour author Susie Seiner injects into the tale."
In most missing persons investigations police will tell you (off the record) that if they don’t find who they’re looking for with 72 hours, it turns into a search for a body. That’s the premise of Missing Presumed and it gives the book a terrific ticking-clock appeal.
Edith Hind has vanished into thin air. Her boyfriend arrives home one evening to find her gone. Things look extremely suspicious: there are bloodstains on the kitchen floor, Edith’s keys and smartphone have been left behind, and the front door is ajar.
But what makes this book so different from the usual police whodunit is the sly humour author Susie Seiner injects into the tale. It starts with a hilarious account of a disastrous blind date. Our heroine, Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw, is looking for love and we find her sitting opposite a deeply boring man employed by the River Authority. His conversation revolves around newts and shopping trolleys. He doesn’t drink, so Manon glugs back her wine alone. When the bill arrives, he suggests they split it – and then points out he didn’t have any wine. ‘So yours comes to £23.85. Mine’s only £11,’ he says. ‘D’you want to check?’ Poor Manon is so desperate she still sleeps with the geek anyway. In for a penny.
So right away we know we have an endearing, flawed character in Manon, struggling with her failures while she investigates what may be a horrible crime. It’s gasps and laughs all the way.
"Manon is a wonderfully quirky character; I loved her and I truly hope she will appear in future books."
The contrast between our dedicated police officer and the missing woman could hardly be greater. Manon is heading for forty and her personal life is in a mess. Her peers have partners and children; Manon is beginning to suspect she’ll be an everlasting version of Bridget Jones. But 24-year-old Edith Hind appears to have it all. She is both beautiful and privileged: her parents are wealthy and her father is a hugely influential man. Her boyfriend is gorgeous – although he doesn’t appear to have two brain cells to rub together. So what on earth has happened to her? As the crucial 72-hour deadline draws remorselessly closer, Steiner ratchets up the tension page by page.
Manon is a wonderfully quirky character; I loved her and I truly hope she will appear in future books. She suffers from insomnia and the only cure is for her to keep her police radio switched on by her bedside. She find the night chatter about road traffic accidents or drunken fights outside local nightclubs strangely soothing (‘VB, VB, mobile unit to northern bypass, please. That’s the A141, junction with Main Street. UDAA’) The jargon acts as a kind of sedative.
Until the night she picks up radio messages about Edith Hind, calling for ‘an SIO’ (senior investigating officer) and concluding with the curt but ominous: ‘Quite concerned with what we’ve got here, actually.’
Manon rolls out of bed and steps into her clothes. Never mind about that senior investigating officer.
This one’s hers.
Here are a selection of the reviews for Missing, Presumed
"Within a chapter, DS Manon Bradshaw announces herself as a detective to follow through books and books to come. A treat in store for those who love their crime fiction rich in psychology, beautifully written and laced with dark humour. Dive in."
"Missing, Presumed hits the sweet spot between literary and crime fiction. The plot is gripping, with a twist that knocked me sideways."
"Steiner’s engrossing, gripping and wry prose, beautifully detailed storytelling and the wonderfully drawn DS Manon Bradshaw elevate this missing person novel into something quite spectacular and deeply satisfying."
"This clever, witty novel is one of those rare books that marries excellent writing and memorable characters with an absorbing plot and a startling twist."
Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express