Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner | Publisher: Random House | Publication Date: June 28, 2016
A grad student from a well-connected family (her father is physician to the royal family) goes missing and you think you’re in for the standard whodunit, or possibly, in the spirit of Gone Girl, the “is she really missing” story. Missing, Presumed has some of those elements, but ended up being slightly more.
The chapters alternate POVs, shifting between Manon Bradshaw, the Cambridgeshire police investigator working the missing persons case of Edith Hind; Helena, Edith’s best friend; Miriam, Edith’s mother; and another investigator on the case, Davy.
Not all of the narratives work. Davy is a good man, but maybe a little too good. He’s long suffered in a relationship with the hawkish Chloe, and stays despite how she makes him feel. When he’s not working, he mentors at-risk boys. The character was extremely likable, but his prospective brought nothing to the story. Additionally, Helena’s inclusion seemed to be for the sole purpose of tossing in red herrings about Edith’s disappearance.
Thankfully, the bulk of the book focuses on Manon, who lulls herself to sleep every night by listening to the police scanner. Despite the fact that she engages in casual sex with men she quickly dismisses, what she truly wants is a lasting relationship like those everyone around her seems to have found. It’s through her intuition that the case gets its biggest break, but this comes after sluggish middle where not much happens. When the case sputters, so does the book. While much of the dialogue between Manon and her boss was always good for a laugh (as were the numerous mentions of “track suit bottoms”), Manon’s attempt at a serious relationship was cringeworthy.
Where Missing, Presumed really shined was the look at the complicated Hind family. Through this privileged family we witness how the expectations and pressures placed by society (and ourselves) can drive people to deny who they are, sometimes dangerously so. Miriam’s role is particularly striking as she was someone who knew one family intimately well, seeing through the facade they’d perfected, but was completely fooled by another.
Once the pieces of Edith’s case begin to fall into place, Missing, Presumed sails towards the ending, picking up the steam it lost shortly after the investigation began. Where the characters are left when the smoke clears is touching. Manon finds what she wants in the most unexpected place, and the Hinds embark on a journey of forgiveness not often seen in such stories.
Missing, Presumed = 8/10