Published by Mulholland Books
250,000 people go missing in the UK every year. 91% of those reported to police are found within 48 hours. 99% of cases are solved within a year. And 1% stay gone. 11 years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body has been found in woods near Blyth. DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, and is determined to make up for it now. But when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that nothing is as simple as it seems.
This one gets straight in there with the discovery of a young girl’s body, believed to be that of Emma Thorley, a local girl who disappeared 11 years ago aged 16.
Initially, police suspect she was murdered by her violent thug of an ex-boyfriend, Lucas, the local drug dealer and generally all round nasty piece of work. However, more suspects do start to work their way out of the woodwork; such as Ben, a local drug therapist who was straddling the line of appropriate behaviour whilst working with Emma to get her clean; and Jenny, the local drug-addled bike who had a thing for Lucas as well as really disliking Emma.
Coincidentally, both Ben and Jenny left town about 11 years ago. Ben left to look after his sick mother, but when questioned 11 years on he denies ever knowing Emma – even though he was questioned and happy to help the police 11 years ago. And Jenny has not only left town, but taken on a whole new identity. So what are they hiding? And why is Lucas now so desperate to find these two before the police do?
This one was a great read that got straight into it without any faffing about. It switches between the present day investigation and flashbacks of when Emma first went missing. You are only drip-fed the flashbacks though, in order to keep you guessing.
An equal amount of focus is given to the investigating officers, Freeman and Gardner’s side of things – including substantial character development – as is given to Emma and all those that knew her.
Throughout you feel like there is much more to all of this than is being alluded to, and you will feel as frustrated as DS Freeman when you feel like things just don’t quite add up. But then… BAM!! I was treated to the first twist that has full on slapped me in the face in a very long time! This was one that I did not see coming one little bit! Usually, with even the best of twists, I will probably suss it at the latest by a few paragraphs before the actual reveal. But this one had a one-word reveal, and I genuinely had no clue until I read that one word!
What also made a refreshing change was the male and female officers on the case not ending up in bed together – I find this often cheapens a story, so I was pleased that they remained professional, though not cold.
Speaking of cold, the reader is often reminded of this – specifically regarding the weather but also reflecting some of the characters and the bleakness of their stories. Set in the more deprived areas of North-East England, it was also a gritty and stark reminder of how rough life can be.
Essentially I really enjoyed this one. It seemed that I had finished it extremely quickly, but it wasn’t lacking, so I must have just been completely enthralled. And my God that twist!
My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.